Venice is famed for its stunning range of more or less finely preserved palaces, but the so-called Ca’ d’Oro (which would literally translate as the Golden House) is one of the most spectacular of all, enriching the density of tourist sights on the Grand Canal of the city. The original owners were the members of the Contarini family (one of the most important historical families of Venice, who gave 8 doges to the city). The palace, officially called Palazzo Santa Sofia, was erected between 1428 and 1430, and it gained its surname as a result of the shining decorations which used to adorn its outer walls (gilded and polychrome floral patterns which, in time, faded and lost much of their original shine).

But however tarnished the palace is at present, it still remains one of the best embodiments of the 15th century Gothic architecture in Venice. The architects were Giovanni Bon and Bartolomeo Bon, father and son who have also left their artistic print on sundry other architectural landmarks of Venice, such as the Doge’s Palace. The building proper was erected around a small inner courtyard, and it consists of an array of elegant columns, slender arcades and beautifully adorned balconies.

Much to the dismay of all connoisseurs who know how to appreciate the virtues of the 15th century Venetian Gothic style, certain original elements of the palace have been completely removed (given the palace changed ownership several times in the course of history, and some of the owners apparently managed it without preserving its ancient patrimony). We speak of several balconies which used to overlook the courtyard and of the Gothic stairway which used to provide the access from the same inner courtyard to the palace.

The last owner, Baron Giorgio Franchetti (who had had bought Ca’ d’Oro in 1894), donated the building to the Italian state in 1922. After a certain period of restoration works, the palace opened as an art gallery (one of the best in Venice, even) showcasing several notable collections of paintings and statues. The collections also include furniture and Flemish tapestries (which date back to the 15th century). Some of the highlights refer to paintings by Andrea Mantegna (symbolic for the Venetian school of painting), as well as to works by Tintoretto, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Jan Steen, Van Dyck. The collections of bronze statues and ceramics also count as notable highlights.

Giorgio Franchetti Gallery at Ca’ d’Oro (Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca’ d’Oro)
3932, Cannaregio, 30126, Venice, Italy
0039 041 5222349
0039 041 5238790
[email protected]
Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday: 8:15am to 7:15pm; Mondays: 8:15am to 2pm
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