The Venetian ghetto was the area of Venice where Jews were once forced to live by the ancient government of the Republic of Venice. It was for this very place that the term "ghetto", a word present within different languages and cultures, began to be used.
History of the Jewish Ghetto of Venice
The Jewish Ghetto of Venice
was thus established on 29 March 1516. It was not the first time that Jews in Venice were forced to live in a separate area of the city. In 1552 Venice had 160,000 inhabitants, including 900 Jews, who were mainly skilled merchants.
Although the Jewish presence in Venice is already documented before the year 1000, it will be necessary to wait until the end of the 14th century to find an effective and stable settlement. Until the establishment of the ghetto, the Israelites, although subject to various restrictions, could live almost everywhere in the city.
Before it was actually designated as part of the Jewish city, the area was a copper foundry. It is from here, in fact, that the term derives from the Venetian word geto, (pronounced ghèto) understood in the sense of jet, that is, the casting of molten metal, since there were public foundries for the manufacture of bombards. However, already at that time, these spaces were divided into two parts, called respectively the Old and the New Ghetto.
The Venetian Ghetto today
Even today, the Ghetto is the centre of Jewish life in the city
. The Jewish community of Venice, which has about 450 people, is culturally active, although only a few members live in the Ghetto.
Every year an international conference of Jewish studies is organized, with particular reference to the history and culture of the Veneto. Other conferences, exhibitions and seminars are held throughout the year.
Within this very special place, there are all the spaces that characterize Jewish culture as temples and synagogues. The temples are not only places of worship, but also contain social facilities such as a nursery school, a home for the elderly, the kosher guest house Giardino dei Melograni, the kosher restaurant Hostaria del Ghetto and a bakery. Everything you need within the life of a community.
In addition to architectural and artistic monuments, the community also boasts a Museum of Jewish Art, the Library and Archives Renato Maestro and the new Info Point within the Midrash Leon da Modena.
In the area of the Ghetto there are also a yeshiva (place of Jewish education), several Jewish shops and a synagogue run by the Chabad of Venice.
Although only some of the approximately 500 Venetian Jews still live in the Ghetto, many return during the day for religious services in the two synagogues still in use (the other three are used only for guided tours, offered by the Museum of the Jewish Community).
Run and discover all the secrets of this incredible place, get lost in the Cannaregio district and also find the right time to stop and taste the sweet and savory products of the great Italian gastronomic tradition.
In this regard, a particularly advisable place is the pasticceria Nobile
, located right in the heart of Cannaregio halfway between Rialto and the station, easily accessible from the water bus stop (San Marcuola).