Experience a unique piece of Venice’s rich history in a part of the city once virtually shut off from the outside world.
Learn the stories of Venice’s Jewish history in the Venetian Ghetto. This area of the city is a reminder of all the cultures and identities that this fascinating city holds. It has a continuing importance for European Jewish communities.
In the 16th century, Jews in Venice were confined to this small island, which came to be a thriving cultural center that provided for the needs of the communities that lived here. Venice at this time was very ethnically segregated. At the time of its foundation, this neighborhood was protected by walls and locked gates and patrolled by boats on the surrounding canals. Compare depictions of the location from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice with what you see in front of you.
Today, anyone can visit. The Venetian Ghetto has a small, tranquil square, framed by typically tall and square pastel building façades. Make it an educational and reflective stop on your walking tour. At times a place of tragedy, it is now a piece of living history, as attested by the collection of Holocaust memorials made by sculptor Arbit Blatas.
In the Venetian Ghetto visit any of five synagogues, dating back to the Renaissance. These have historically provided places of worship for Jews from different cultural backgrounds and all have their own unique architecture. There’s also a Jewish museum, telling stories of the centuries of Venetian Jewish history. Purchase a combined ticket for the museum and a guided tour of the synagogues. The Venetian Ghetto has a few restaurants that attract visitors at night, including two kosher restaurants, but otherwise it is quite a tranquil place to walk around.
Venice is generally dense and easy to explore by foot. However, it’s also very easy to get lost here. Although the ghetto is near other attractions, be sure to use your map to get to the right canals and bridges.