Palazzo dei Camerlenghi is one of the unique sights of Venice. First of all, the palace is surrounded by no other buildings, standing on its own on a piece of land on the Grand Canal (administratively speaking, it pertains to sestiere San Polo), near the Rialto Bridge. By force of this context, its facade (in case we can speak of a facade at all) stretches on all the sides of the building, which is, actually, a less common architectural feature. Second of all, it is one of the first structures ever built in Europe in order to serve as administrative building.

Indeed, the palace first served as seat of the financial magistrates of Venice, and of the Consuls and Supra-Consuls of Traders of Venice (in Italian, Camerlenghi). At present, Palazzo dei Camerlenghi remains an administrative building, being the headquarters if the Italian Comptroller and Auditor General. While, on the other hand, the palace did not manage to keep its past wealth of artistic decorations, what is certain is it used to be, indeed, a repository of plenty of masterpieces now unfortunately lost.

The palace was built between 1525 and 1528, and the Renaissance touches still visible today are owed to Guglielmo dei Grigi who, allegedly, was influenced by the likes of Pietro Lombardo and Mauro Codussi in designing the palace. The building is decorated with false columns which separate the window frames lushly decorated by panels (these are, in fact, the only decorative elements which have survived in the course of history).

It was customary for the magistrates to bestow a painting (usually, focusing on a religious theme) upon their retirement, and this is how, in time, until the 19th century Napoleonic occupation, the tremendous amount of pictorial masterpieces found shelter at the palace. As said, most of them were taken away and scattered throughout Europe (some works were even destroyed). When they were brought back to Venice, they were instead placed in sundry museums and galleries of the city, such as the Academy Galleries.

Palazzo dei Camerlenghi
San Marco, Venice, Italy
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