Upon a trip down Venice’s Grand Canal, you will immediately notice the vast array of different palaces. Here, many styles are represented including the Gothic and Renaissance styles, however, some palaces are known for their unique connections to literature, art, or powerful families. This page is dedicated to the most notable palaces on Venice’s Grand Canal.
1. Palazzo Contarini Fasan
The Palazzo Contarini Fasan is most known for its connection to William Shakespeare’s Othello, The Moor of Venice. It is often called “The House of Desdemona”, because of its significance as the house where Shakespeare’s fictional Othello murders his wife, then kills himself. This literary parallel makes the Palazzo Contarini Fasan a unique stop around the Grand Canal.
2. Ca’ d’Oro (Palazzo Santa Sofia)
The Ca’ d’Oro, or “House of Gold” as it is so rightfully called, was built between 1428 and 1430 for the Contarini family. Built by Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bon, the Ca’ d’Oro once had ornate gilded walls. It is considered one of the oldest palaces in the city and is a striking example of the Venetian Gothic style or architecture.
3. Ca’ da Mosto
The Ca’ da Mosto is the oldest building on Venice’s Grand Canal. The Ca’ da Mosto is in the Byzantine style, with distinctive pointed arches and rich relief sculpture.
For interesting 19th century photographs of the Ca’ da Mosto, I have included a link here
4. Palazzo Grassi
The Palazzo Grassi, one of the last palaces built on Venice’s Grand Canal, is known for its Venetian Classical architecture and academic style. It has been passed through many owners. The facade is all white marble, and the interior contains an art gallery and an outdoor theater that seats 600 people.
5. Palazzo Dario
Also known as the Ca’ Dario, the Palazzo Dario is a palace that has served as a source of inspiration from Ruskin to Monet. The palace is built in the floral Venetian Gothic style by architect Pietro Lombardo. Its distinguishing circular wall veils make it a unique palace on the Grand Canal.
6. Palazzo Corner Spinelli
A graceful example of the early Renaissance, the Palazzo Corner Spinelli was built from 1497-1500. It is known for its circular balconies.
Here is a collection of 19th century photographs of the Palazzo Corner Spinelli
7. Ca’ Rezzonico
The Ca’ Rezzonico is a stately Venetian Baroque palace on Venice’s Grand Canal. Throughout the years, it has passed through many families, though now it is currently a public museum dedicated to 18th century Venice.
I have included a link to the website of the Ca’ Rezzonico here
8. Palazzo Grimani
The palace that Ruskin calls “one of the best in Europe”, the Palazzo Grimani has a striking interior with frescoes by Francesco Menzocchi and Camile Montavano, though one of the most interesting parts of the palazzo is the Sala di Psiche (1540).
Here is the official website of the Palazzo Grimani!
9. Palazzo Pesaro
The Palazzo Pesaro is a Baroque marble palace designed by architect Baldassarre Longhena in the mid 17th century. It is one of the 11 museums run by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.
10. Palazzo Barbaro
The Palzzo Barbaro, along with the Palazzo Cavalli, are two adjoining palaces on Venice’s Grand Canal. The palace has served as an inspiration for many artists including John Singer Sargent.
11. Palazzo Foscari
One of the noblest examples of 15th century Venice is the Palazzo Foscari. Visited by John Ruskin in 1845, he commends the grand renovation projects that have preserved the Gothic palace from its past ruin.
12. Palazzo Giustiniani
The Palazzo Giustiniani is a Venetian Gothic palace in the Dorsoduro sestiere of Venice. It was built in the late 15th century, perhaps by Bartolomeo Bon. Personalities such as painter Natale Schiavoni and German composer Richard Wagner, who wrote the second act of Tristan and Isolde here between 1858-1859.
13. Fondaco dei Turchi
The Fondaco dei Turchi is a Veneto-Byzantine style palace on Venice’s Grand Canal. Constucted in the 13th century, the Fondaco dei Turchi served as a one-building ghetto for Venice’s Turkish population. It also served as a warehouse and a market for the Turkish traders. The building was is a ruinous state until the mid 19th century where it was restored between 1860 and 1880.
Here is a neat website I found that has more information on the Palazzos around the Grand Canal: www.venicethefuture.com
14. Palazzo Nani-Mocenigo
Now, known as Hotel Danieli, the Palazzo Nani-Mocenigo dates back to the 15th century. It was once the residence of the Barbarigo family. Since then, it has been purchased by the Ca’ Foscari University and converted to the building for the Department of Italian.
15. Palazzo Pisano Moretti
The Palazzo Pisano Moretta was a palace that has entertained a plethora of visitors from Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor to Czar Paul I of Russia. The 15th century palace has interior rooms decorated by artists such as Tiepolo and Giuseppe Angeli. Annually, the palace holds a masquerade ball, Il Ballo del Doge during the Carnival period.
Brown, Patricia Fortini. Venice and Antiquity, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.
Humfrey, Peter. The Altarpiece in Renaissance Venice, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.
Huse, Norbert. The Art of Renaissance Venice, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1990.
Norwich, John Julius. A History of Venice, New York City: Alfred A. Knopf Inc, 1982.