The Old Customs House of Venice is located on the east extremity of Dorsoduro, precisely at the intersection of the Grand Canal with the sea water which washes the shores of Giudecca. While the architectural style of the building is rather uncertain, Gothic and Baroque elements can be easily pointed out. Regardless of such considerations, Dogana di Mare (alternately called Dogana da Mar) overlooks the surroundings from the height of its square tower overtopped by two Atlases which support a globe on which Fortuna sits in a proud and dominating gesture, holding a gilded sail. While the statue of the goddess adds to the overall aesthetic vibe of the structure, it was also placed to practical purposes, namely, to serve as weathervane.

The Old Customs House was designed by Giuseppe Benoni and built between 1677 and 1682, in a moment when Venice was undergoing a painful economic decline. Before the construction of the Customs House, a 14th century watch tower used to fill the same site, it too serving the economic needs of Venice. The Customs House was erected precisely to help Venice recover from its gradually decaying economic state by controlling the entrance of the ships to the Grand Canal, preventing the tax evasion attempts of the merchants. Some, however, incline to believe the construction of Dogana da Mar was also meant to hide, by the robustness of the building, the said regression of La Serenissima.

However, regardless of the historical context in which it was built, the Old Customs House is at present a hub of art. It is managed by the same structure which runs Palazzo Grassi, being owned by the French businessmen and art lover Francois Pinault. Temporary exhibits of modern art are constantly held here, so heading for Punta della Dogana (which is how the entire structure is called, comprising both the Old Customs House proper and the adjoining infrastructure) is not a hollow tourist pursuit at all.

Old Customs House (Dogana da Mar / Dogana di Mare)
Punta della Dogana, 2, Dorsoduro, 30173, Venice, Italy
0039 041 5231680
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