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The world's oldest Ghetto

The Venetian Ghetto was the area of Venice in which Jews were compelled to live by the government of the Venetian Republic; it was instituted in 1516 and is the oldest Jewish ghetto in the world. It is located in the Cannaregio district, about 5-10 minutes’ walk from the Santa Lucia train station. Although it is a small area of ​​the city, it is possible to distinguish different buildings and details from different historical periods. The heart of the Ghetto is Campo del Ghetto Novo, which overlooks the Jewish Museum, the Banco Rosso (one of the ancient pawnshops that were active in Venice) and the Jewish Retirement Home.

The Ghetto is divided into the Ghetto Nuovo (“New Ghetto”), and the adjacent Ghetto Vecchio (“Old Ghetto”). These names of the ghetto sections are misleading, as they refer to an older and newer site at the time of their use: in terms of Jewish residence, the Ghetto Nuovo is actually older than the Ghetto Vecchio. The ghetto was connected to the rest of the city by two bridges that were only open during the day.

Though it was home to a large number of Jews, the population living in the Venetian Ghetto never became a distinct “Venetian Jewish” ethnicity. Four of the five synagogues were clearly divided according to ethnic identity: separate synagogues existed for the German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese communities. The fifth, the Scuola Canton, was built as a private synagogue for the four families, one of them the Fano family, who funded its construction, and also served the Venetian Ashkenazi community. Today, there are also other populations of Ashkenazic Jews in Venice, who operate a kosher food store, a yeshiva, and a Chabad synagogue.

Our private guided tour of the Jewish Venice starts from the picturesque Cannaregio district, often ignored by mass tourism and home to the oldest Jewish community in Europe. Guests are accompanied through the Venetian Ghetto to discover its peculiar architecture, its 16th-century synagogues and to learn the history of the Jews of Venice. The tour continues with a visit to the Jewish Museum, a small Holocaust memorial, and can be then combined with a food tour to discover Venice kosher restaurants and bakeries, many of which opened decades ago. Stay in one or our Venetian properties and enjoy the best the city has to offer.

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