the arenale is venice's medieval shipyard. during the crusades 30,000 people worked in the arenale and using a production line process built a warship a day. in 1204 AD a fleet of venecian warships laid seige to constantinople. the venecians were victorious and sacked the city. this defeat much weakened byzantium and later it was over run by the turks. venice's greatest naval victory was the battle of lepanto in 1571. this defeat of the muslems inspired venice's bakers to invent the crecent shaped croissant.
This most famous of Venetian promenades which forms the southern edge of the Castello sestiere literally teems with people (mainly us tourists) and is a spectacular introduction to the city if you arrive by water.
This quayside was named after the traders from Dalmatia in modern day Croatia (Schiavonia) who used to come ashore here. It seems only right that the multicultural buzz of the place has been maintained up to this day as tourists rush between elegant palazzi, hotels, restaurants, vaporetto stops and souvenir stalls. The promenade is also home to the statue of Vittorio Emanuele II, who was the first king of a united Italy. The statue was sculpted in 1887 by Ettore Ferrari.
Scuola Grande di San Marco was built in 1260 by Confraternity of San Marco to act as its seat. The building, however, was destroyed by a big fire in 1485 and rebuilt in the very beginnings of the 16th century under the design of Pietro Lombardo. Its facade is a masterwork with nicely decorated niches and pilasters and adorned with white marble statues completed by Mauro Codussi. Three of the greatest Italian explorers of the 15th century; Barbaro, da Mosto e Contarini were members of this Scuola.
In the beginning of the 19th century, after fall of Napoleon, Habsburgs took the controll over the Venetian Republic and the Scuola became a military hospital. Nowadays it is a civil hospital of Venice.
The main building (15th century) was once the granary of Venice.
The ground floor and the first two floors present the exploits and equipment of the Navy of Venice and of the Italian naval Fleet. The museum is owned by the Italian Navy so that the 19th and 20th century, with the commando raids by human torpedo's, are more represented than the Navy of the Venetian Republic itself.
On the first floor a room is dedicated to the Bucintoro, the ceremonial barge of the Dodge from which every year on Ascension Day he would throw a ring into the lagoon, symbolizing the marriage of Venice to the sea. There are also models of ancient ships as well as a small ceremonial galley. In other rooms are shown models of commercial ships of the 20th century.
The third floor contains models and objects from gondolas, fishing boats and other vessels from the Venetian lagoon.
A room shows models of oriental junks; another one is dedicated to the Swedish navy and finally a room contains a collection of shells. These rooms, obviously, have nothing to do with the "Serenissima"!
Besides the main building the Ship Pavilion houses some Venetian boats among which a parade galley of 18 oars the "Scalea Reale".
Actually this museum disappoints the visitors who came for the navy of Venice, a navy which from the 12th to the 16th century dominated the Adriatic and the Oriental Mediterranean Sea. The navy of the Serenissima and its maritime power is finally not much represented.
It is disappointing all the more as at the time of its glory Venice maintained permanently a hundred galleys plus the merchant ships.
The museum does not show much of this. No battle galley was preserved, you do not find here historic vessels as the "Mary Rose" or "Victory" in Portsmouth, nor a replica like in the Netherlands with the commercial vessel "Amsterdam" of the VOC exposed at the maritime museum of Amsterdam.
The amateur who wants to see galleys will even see more impressive ones in the maritime museums of Barcelona or Lisbon-Belem.
Open: Monday to Friday 8.45 - 13.30 h; Saturday 8.45 - 13h.
Closed on Sundays and Holidays.
Price (2011): 1,55 €, reduced 0,77€.
San Zanipolo was my most favourite church in Venezia (well, apart from the Basilica, but this is another world). I still don’t know why, maybe because she is so big and so suffused with light inside. And maybe as there are only a few benches inside, which might make the church seem to be bigger as she is. But on the other hand, she is the biggest in Venezia anyhow. Built between 1330 and 1450, she was the church of Domenican Order and is named after two martyrs of 250 AD (and not, as one would think, after two of the apostles). Oh, I should mention that “Zanipolo” means Santi Giovanni e Paolo, but the short version Zanipolo is very much typical local dialect – contracting and shortening words.
The church’s outside is very simple, brown brick and except the later built entrance portal has almost no decoration – reflecting the Domenicans’ life of privation. Inside, she has two chapels on each side and four apses around the main apse in the east. It is well worth to spend some time inside San Zanipolo, as it was here where the processions ended since 14th century when a doge has died. San Zanipolo is final resting place for 27 doges and nicely shows the development in tomb building – from simple ones to opulently decorated ones of Baroque style.
As space is not enough to describe the glory of this church in only one tip, I’ll expand on the next ones.
Opening hours: daily from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., except during masses of course.
Admission: 2,50 €, but note that San Zanipolo is not included in the Chorus Pass. Some travel books however metion that she would be included, but she is not on the Chorus Pass list
Holy masses are held on weekdays 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. as well as on Sundays and holidays on 8:30 a.m., 11.00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Chiesa San Zanipolo is marvellous inside. I can only highly recommend not to race through her, as you might miss one of the many treasures she holds. I stayed in there for nearly 3 hours and came back to see more. Also, the timing should be considered, as I found it quite fascinating to be inside around noon on a sunny day – the light painted the most marvellous effects on the anyhow fantastic marble grounds (photo 3).
If you come inside the church, take some moments and just stand there and look around: this will give you an idea how big she really is.
On the right hand side there is a big early Renaissance triptych, depicting San Vincenzo Ferrer (photo 3). He was a Spanish Dominican mendicant in 14th century. The triptych is said to be made by Bellini, but some art historicans doubt that.
Further to the right are three side chapels; the most interesting and artistic I found is Cappella di San Domenico with a marvellous ceiling fresco showing the apotheosis of San Domenico (photo 1). In the little side chapel next to it is an icon of Madonna della Pace, which was given to the Domenicans in 14th century and which is said to have miraculous powers. On the left side is the famous Cappella del Rosario (photo 5), which was built in 1582 as a votive chapel to celebrate the famous victory in Battle of Lepanto. Originally, Tintoretto has contributed with paintings, but these were destroyed during a fire in 1867 and have been replaced with paintings by Veronese. Try and go into this chapel during midday or a bit earlier, when the sun paints magic lights & shadows on the magnificent multicoloured marble floor.
While most of Venezia’s churches don’t have that much of stained glass windows, Zanipolo has one, in the southern transept (photo 4). It was of course made in Murano and shows many bible scenes and also St. George killing the dragon.
Earlier I already mentioned that San Zanipolo is the final resting place for 27 of Venezia’s doges and thus seen as Venezia’s Pantheon (some sources say 25 tombs, but to be honest, I didn’t count myself, but trust the author of my art guidebook). Since 14th century, all burial ceremonies for the doges ended here and the tombs are somehow a reflection of Venezia’s history and the development in tomb building in the context of architectural styles. While the first tomb (of Giovanni Dolfin, 1361, left hand side at the altar section) is a very much simple sarcophagus, the one of the Valiero family (Silvestro, his wife Elisabetta and his father Bertuccio) is of pompous size and almost theatrelike decoration (photo 4). The tombs are built in a way to show the respective doge’s power: the early tombs are more peaceful with the doges resting = lying on the sarcophagus and the tombs are somehow soaring at the wall. With the tomb of Pietro Mocenigo (main photo) the building style changes to a mausoleumlike style, which is also the start of Venezia’s own High Renaissance period. The doges are now standing on their sarcophagi, some with a very authoritative expression.
The maybe most famous doge, Leonardo Loredan (which most of us know from the portrait) is also buried here, right hand side of the altar.
When I approached Venezia from the northern side, first I was mislead by a belltower which I thought was the Campanile, but it wasn’t. It was the campanile of chiesa San Franceso della Vigna, in Castellos northeast. I never heard of this church before but my walk through Castello’s north lead me there. I was amazed by its façade, which looks a bit like a greek temple (see photo in the link below; somehow I forgot to take a photo of the whole façade), Palladio’s first work in Venezia. This church has a quite interesting story. Legends say that San Marco (St. Mark the Evangelist, Venezia’s patron saint) once landed here in a stormy night and an angel appeared and greeted him with the words Pax tibi Marce Evangelista meus (peace with you, o Mark, my Evangelist), which we all know from the countless depictions of San Marco lion – it is written on the book he holds in his paws. Once a vinyard stood here, hence the name “della vigna”.
Inside, it is filled with rich artwork, as I have read: Veronese paintings, a madonna by Giovanni Bellini and relief work of Pietro Lombardo. I didn’t go inside in May (obviously didn’t make my homework properly), so I cannot say anthing about opening times. It is not included in the Chorus Pass.
But if you go, you should also look at the cloister in the north of the church. It is said to to be overgrown with plants and tendrils, and given the view on GoogleEarth it must indeed look nice. It seems that there is still a vineyard and a garden (Google Earth) but it is not accessible from the outside.
Next to the church is a building which is easily been overlooked, but all fans of the TV series of Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti will immediately recognise it as the Questura, where he works. But this is another story, for the off path section (and not yet done).
And now my most favourite museum of all Venezia – the Museo Storico Navale. If you are interested in the city herself, how she became what she was and is, a visit to this museum is a MUST. But do plan this visit in advance as the museum has very strange opening hours. It is closed on Sundays and on the other days it is only open until 1:30 p.m. And do visit the museum’s website beforehand to know which floors you would like to see. It is in Italian only but quite easy to read: piano = floor and “mouse over” the pink spots shows photos of the exhibits in each floor and section.
The museum is located in La Serenissima’s former granary and belongs to the Italian Navy. On 5 floors it shows literally everything connected to Venezia and her naval past. What I found most fascinating are the old prints with aerial views of the city and of course the old gondolas. But the best of all is the replica of the Bucintoro, the glorious doge’s galley, the one with which the doges sailed out into the sea to celebrate Venezia’s marriage with the sea. The replica is approx. 3-4 m long and sits in a glass cabinet (careful when you take photos! Switch off the flash – I almost got blinded because I forgot) and carved or modelled very much elaborate! I almost forgot to move on, while I kept looking and discovering more details.
On the other floors you will see old ship laterns (ground floor), figureheads and old ships and the Bucintoro (first floor), nautical instruments and clothes (second floor), old gondolas, including Peggy Guggenheim’s and very interesting descriptions and models of how gondolas are built (in English as well, third floor), a collection of all different kinds of sea shells and plants (fourth floor) and the Swedish section with information about Venezia’s connection to Sweden (between third and fourth floor).
But the best of all is the entrance fee: as low as 1,55 € !!!
Opening hours:: Mo-Fri: 8:45 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., Sat: 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Sundays and holidays closed
As this museum fascinated me most, I took tons of photos and have added two more albums about the Bucintoro and the museum in general. Only photos at the moment, and more explanations when I have time :-)
This is a very nice place where it's easy to relax away from the crowd of tourists.
Here le galere and later le gondole used to be built, today close to L' Arsenale there is located The Navy Museum (il Museo Storico Navale di Venezia).
This neighborhood can be reached on foot walking from Piazza San Marco (about 10min walk)
VAPORETTO - SAN ZACCARIA
Retracing your steps along the Riva degli Schiavoni, look for the Hotel Danieli. This is the largest and possibly one of the most famous hotels in Venice, and one of the top hotels in the world.
Originally built as a Palace for the ducal Dandolo family in the 14th century, it became a hotel in 1822, named after its owner Joseph Da Niel. Newer wings were added in the 1940's Apparently its opulent interior is crammed with marble, stained glass, crystal chandeliers, silk covered walls, gilt mirrors and oriental carpets. It also has the uninterrupted view over the lagoon - but this comes with the accompanying noise from the pavement below!
Between the 2 buildings of the hotel is a narrow street, Calle delle Rasse. Walking along here, you'll see many fish restaurants, bars and shops. When I visited at Christmas, small twinkling white lights decorated the street.
This street was originally a hive of industry- Rasse (Rascia or Rassa) was a black strong canvas- like material, (or a woolen cloth) that was used to cover the gondolas, to protect their ornate furnishings and fabrics. It originated in Servia (Rascia)
So manufacturing, selling and sewing of this material took place all along the street, and led to its name.
Doge Vitale Michiel 1 was murdered by Marco Cassuolo at the entrance to this Calle on September 13th 1102, while he was on his way to pay his traditional annual visit to the nearby church of San Zaccaria.
Cassuolo, was caught, after attempting to hide in one of the nearby houses at the Calles entrance, and hung.
These houses were then destroyed. They were rebuilt, but not permitted to be constructed in stone. They were then destroyed to enable the extension of the Hotel Danieli.
Apparently, Doge Vitale Michiel 11 was also murdered near this Calle, again on his way to San Zaccaria on 27th March 1172 - an Easter visit!! Hmmmm....
Don't worry, the worst that is likely to happen today is that you'll be accosted by street entertainers along this route!!!
VAPORETTO - SAN ZACARRIA or ARSENALE
Popular with local children and teenagers. I understand that this fair is only open December and January.
About half a dozen rides, including dodgem cars, side stalls such as a rifle range/hook a duck/ hoola hoops - with the chance to win bottles of whiskey. money etc- but more likely to be a tacky keyring!
I always find it slightly amusing watching adults desperately trying to win something of less value than the amount of money that they've forked out, in the idea that 'THIS TIME' I'll get it!
An assortment of foodstalls selling the usual fairground fodder - candy floss, hot dogs, burgers, hot and cold drinks, including small bottles of wine.
UPDATE- DECEMBER 08 - The fair had expanded in size since my last visit, though Christmas Eve/ Day some stalls/ rides were closed at night.
VAPORETTO - SAN ZACCARIA
On the Riva degli Schiavoni is this impressive statue to Vittorio Emanuele 11, who was the first king of the united Italy.
The monument was created by the Roman sculpter, Ettore Ferrari. It was inaugurated on 1st May 1887, and illustrates the ripping off of the chains of Austrian dominance. It depicts Vittorio on horseback on a stone plinth. Below are lions and dragons.
Between the statue and the next bridge is Pensione Wilder (No 4161), where Henry James completed 'Portrait of A Lady' in 1887
VAPORETTO - SAN ZACCARIA / SAN MARCO (VALLARESSO)
Crossing over Ponte della Paglia, having taken your photo of The Bridge of Sighs, you arrive onto Riva degli Schiavoni - The Dalmations Quay.
(We have left San Marco sestieri (one of the 6 neighbourhoods of Venice) and are now in Castello sestieri - If You're ever unsure where You are in Venice, the street signs also name the Sestieri - and Yellow signs point to San Marco, Rialto Bridge and other main landmarks)
The name comes from Schiavone-the Italian word for Slav, which in Venice was linked to the word slave. Slave trading was a common occurance in the early life of the city. Most slaves arrived from Dalmatian coastal towns.
Many of these Slavs were Christian, or converted to the faith, so by the 11th century, the slave trade in Venice ended.
The quayside, became the location where merchant ships from the ports of the Mediterranean, Adriatic, and further afield unloaded their goods. Food was sold from their boats, or booths set up along the quayside. There were also quite a few inns just beyond the bridge.
In ancient times, the Riva degli Schiavoni was partly walled-as a defense from invasion.
It was such an important transit port, that the area had to be widened , as it was only the width of its bridges. It was paved in 1324, then widened between 1780-82 by the architect Tommaso Temanza, to accommodate the increasingly busy trade.
Apparently a white stone border marks the original boundary. Canaletto's drawings of the Riva during the 1740's and 1750s show an area busy with gondolas, barges and sailing boats.
The Riva has been one of Venices highly desired addresses, with Petrarch in 1362 (No. 4145) and Henry James (No 4161) residing here. The Hotel Danieli (No 4196) has boasted Dickens, Proust, Wagner and Ruskin as guests. Today it welcomes guests willing to part with 700 Euros for its cheaper rooms - 900 Euro with a lagoon view!
Nowadays, this popular promenade still continues its trading history, although this time through the many gift shops and souvenir stalls.
There are also Exchange bureaus, and snack stalls, and You'll no doubt encounter a multitude of street entertainers along your stroll.
This is a pleasant area to stroll at dusk, as the sun sets over the water.
For those preferring a longer walk, and to see some of Venice's less visited areas, with views across the water -
The Riva stretches along the Bacino di San Marco from the Ducal Palace to the Rio Ca'di Dio near the Arsenale Vaporetto stop. Here, the promenade changes its name to Riva Ca' di Dio, until the bridge crossing the Rio dell' Arsenale. The section in front of the Naval museum is The Riva S Biagio, crossing the next bridge you are then on Riva dei Sette Martiri, which is a longer promenade, stretching to near the Giardini Vaporetto stop. Continuing in front of the Giardini Pubblici along the Viale del Giardini Pubblici, then crossing the bridge, you'll find yourself in Sant' Elena at the easternmost end of Venice.
I've heard many people complain about how overcrowded Venice can get at certain times. While this wasn't the case during our visit in late May, we still enjoyed discovering the Parco delle Rimembranze in the Castello area. This park, which is dedicated to the memory of soldiers who died during the Second World war, is the perfect place to go to get away from the crowds. With its beautiful trees and numerous park benches, there isn't another place quite like it in Venice to relax, perhaps read for a while, or even have a small picnic with a nice bottle of wine (it's OK to drink wine in public areas in Venice). It's also worth checking out the view of the lagoon from the park, and when you decide to head back to the heart of the city you can either do so on foot, by following the street that goes along the lagoon, or you can catch a vaporetto at the Santa Elena stop, which is great because the boats are practically empty at that point so you can pick a good spot on board and take all the pictures you want!