Dorsoduro, Venice, Veneto, Italy

Dorsoduro is one of the six sestieri of Venice, in northern Italy. The Dorsoduro district develops between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal. It is roughly divided into two areas, whose division is in correspondence with the Gallerie dell’Accademia and the bridge of the same name.

It is bordered to the north by the districts of Santa Croce and San Polo, by the Rio Ca ‘Foscari and the Rio Malcanton; east from the Grand Canal; to the south it includes the Giudecca canal and the island of the same name which is administratively considered part of the district even though it has its own civic numbering. It is connected to the San Marco district via the Accademia bridge.

The west area develops around Campo Santa Margherita, a popular meeting point for Venetians and university students. It is the main university district of the city. The area between Campo Santa Margherita and the Grand Canal is crossed by numerous shaded streets. More open is the southern area.

The eastern area is less crowded: it is characterized by the presence of numerous parallel channels. This area is crossed by two different paths, one parallel to the Grand Canal and the other to that of the Giudecca. These paths converge in the Punta della Dogana.

Dorsoduro includes the highest land areas of the city and also Giudecca island and Isola Sacca Fisola. Its name derives from the Italian for “hard ridge”, due to its comparatively high, stable land.

The original heart of the area was the Giudecca Canal, along which buildings were constructed from the sixth century. The western part of the sestiere is made up of Mendigola Island, which was among the very first areas of the city to be colonized, a few centuries before Rialto became the vital center of Venice (810).

Where this island stood, the important church of San Nicolò dei Mendicoli was built, dating back to the 11th century. By the eleventh century, settlement had spread across to the Grand Canal, while later religious buildings including the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute and the Zattere quay are now its main landmarks.

In the nineteenth century the Accademia was set up in Dorsoduro and the Ponte dell’Accademia linked it to San Marco, making it an expensive area, popular with foreign residents. The western quarter end and the Giudecca, became industrialised around this time.

The nearby islands were colonized later, until reaching the Punta della Dogana, where the Dogana of Venice was located, at the beginning of the Grand Canal. The last reclaimed area was the area that extends between the Dogana da Mar and the monastery of San Gregorio (in practice, where the basilica of Santa Maria della Salute stands today ).

Main Attractions
After San Marco, Dorsoduro is the district of Venice where most important museums are concentrated: the main museum is the Gallerie dell’Accademia, established by the painter Giambattista Piazzetta in 1750, and transferred to these buildings by Napoleon in 1807.

Also of great importance is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection of modern and contemporary art, at Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, once also the private residence of the American patron, and the contemporary art museum Punta della Dogana – François Pinault Foundation, belonging to the structure of Palazzo Grassi, inaugurated in 2009.

Here there are also Ca ‘Rezzonico, with the museum of the Venetian eighteenth century, Ca’ Dario, sadly known for the tragic end of many of its owners, the Scuola Grande dei Carmini and Ca ‘Foscari, seat of the university of the same name, the palace of the Patriarchal Seminary seat of the Pinacoteca Manfrediniana, Palazzo Loredan Cini seat of the Galleria Cini, the Magazzini del Sale where the Emilio Vedova Foundation organizes exhibitions of modern art.

The most important churches are the basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, the church of the Gesuati, the church of San Trovaso, the church of San Pantalon, the church of Ognissanti and the church of San Nicolò dei Mendicoli.

In this district there are also the squero di San Trovaso and Campo Santa Margherita, a meeting place for Venetians and students. In 2015 the Dorsoduro Museum Mile was established, a cultural itinerary that brings together the Accademia Gallery, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Cini Gallery at Palazzo Loredan Cini and the Punta della Dogana – Pinault Foundation.


Salt Warehouses
The Magazzini del Sale is a building in Venice, located in the Dorsoduro district. This large complex was built at the beginning of the fifteenth century in a strategic point of the city: along these foundations there was one of the main landing places for the rafts and boats that brought goods to Venice. Here it was chosen to build the place to deposit the salt, a fundamental product in the economy of the lagoon city. The facade of the structure has a single storey and developed in length, with nine large portals surmounted by as many crescent windows; above the central openings is the word Emporio dei Sali. Inside there are nine spaces in which the salt was stored, where the aforementioned exhibitions are now organized.

The complex, designed by the architect Alvise Pigazzi, was then preciously restored around 1830. During the twentieth century, after the sale, the Magazzini del Sale suffered a period of decline, following which they were recovered and used, as is the case today, for exhibitions and cultural events. One of the nine Magazzini del Sale has been restored by the Emilio and Annabianca Vedova Foundation, based on a project by Renzo Piano; inaugurated in 2009 since then it has hosted exhibitions organized by the Foundation on Emilio Vedova and other artists for a dialectical comparison with Vedova’s works.

Ca ‘Foscari
Foscari Palace is a palace gothic of Venice located in the district of Dorsoduro. The building is the historic seat of the Ca ‘Foscari University of Venice. Built in 1452 by the will of Doge Francesco Foscari, it is an extraordinary example of Venetian Gothic. From the building you can enjoy a unique panorama that ranges from the Rialto bridge to the Academy of Fine Arts complex. In the 1930s and 1960s, Carlo Scarpa, a famous Venetian architect and designer, was called upon to restore the current Aula Mario Baratto and the adjacent spaces.

It is currently the historic seat of the Ca ‘Foscari University, which has made some of the most beautiful rooms accessible to the public. Thanks to its location in the vault of the Canal, that is on the widest curve of the Grand Canal, which allows you to wander with the view from the Rialto Bridge to the Gallerie dell’Accademia, the second floor was chosen by many painters (such as Giovanni Antonio Canal called Canaletto, Michele Marieschi, Francesco Guardi ) as a place to paint views of the Grand Canal. Two works by Canaletto were painted from the second floor of the building: Grand Canal from Ca ‘Balbi towards Rialto ( 1720 – 1723, Museum of the Venetian eighteenth century at Ca’ Rezzonico) and Regatta on the Grand Canal ( c.1732, Windsor, Royal Collection ). Ca ‘Foscari was also the subject of paintings by many landscape painters (such as Luca Carlevarijs and Michele Marieschi ).

Ca ‘Dario
Ca ‘Dario is a palace in Venice, located at number 353 in the district of Dorsoduro. Ca ‘Dario is often described as one of the most characteristic palaces in Venice. The slender and asymmetrical façade on the Grand Canal, characterized by a limited width of about 10 meters, hangs on one side due to a structural failure and has elements of a clear Renaissance matrix, in contrast to the other facades that still maintain the Gothic style then widespread in Venice. It is completely decorated with polychrome marble and Istrian stone, alternating in eighty circular medallions. The ground floor has two lancet windows and a water portal, while each of the upper floors is illuminated by a four-lancet window and a single lancet window.

The fireplaces, in typical Venetian style, are among the few original examples of the time that have survived to this day. The neo-Gothic balcony was added in the 19th century. Internally the building is distinguished by a large atrium with a well made of marble, a finely decorated marble staircase that leads to the main floors and an internal fountain of oriental inspiration, located in a room that follows the Moorish style in the decoration and shape of the windows. The rear façade, with a clearly restored Gothic aspect, appears uneven: the characteristic red tint is the glue for a set of fireplaces, roof terraces, Gothic windows and loggias.

Punta della Dogana
During the 15th century, the development of commercial activity in Venice led to the transfer to the western tip of Dorsoduro of the Maritime Customs, formerly located near the Arsenale. From here you can enjoy a beautiful view of the San Marco basin. The building was completed in 1682, five years before the nearby cathedral. The work of the architect Giuseppe Benoni is characterized by a tower, surmounted by a sculptural group, depicting two atlases, which raises a sphere in gilded bronze, surmounted by Fortuna, which by turning indicates the direction of the wind. The building continued to be a customs house and therefore has a significant link with the history of the city until the 1980s. After twenty years of oblivion, the Municipality of Venice has launched a tender to transform it into a modern art space.

Important restoration works, from January 2008 to March 2009, allowed the creation of a contemporary art center connected to Palazzo Grassi inside the Dogana da mar complex. The building had stood empty for decades, with failed plans to turn it into apartments or a hotel before being handed over to Pinault. The exterior has been restored without additions and is the only part of the original structure that remains intact. Cosmetic imperfections and putties have been repaired and damaged areas have been reinforced with stainless steel anchors but have been left exposed with visible bricks. The interior was left bare with no surface treatment, the bricks were replaced sparingly. The dividing walls of the last two centuries have been replaced by parallel and rectangular rooms. The roof was replaced by a similar roof with wooden gables, with added skylights. The new floors are made of exposed, polished concrete, in places with linoleum.

Loredan Cini Palace
Palazzo Loredan Cini is an architectural complex in Venice. This elegant 16th-century Gothic palace was the former home of the industrialist and philanthropist Vittorio Cini, who filled it with first-class paintings, interior items, ceramics and Murano glass. Wonderful paintings by little-known Renaissance artists such as Filippo Lippi, Piero Cosimo and Dosso Dossi are presented here. The palace, located at the confluence of the main waterway of the city and the Rio di San Vio, has three facades, both austere and clearly Renaissance. Facade on the Grand Canal: devoid of any architectural interest, it is spread over four floors and is characterized by a succession of mullioned windows and mullioned windows. It was once decorated with frescoes by Giuseppe Porta, which have now disappeared.

Facade on the Rio di San Vio: fifty meters long, it appears divided into two sections, each of which is identified as an independent building and corresponding to a different house number (respectively Dorsoduro 732 and Dorsoduro 864). It overlooks Campo San Vio in a monumental way, to which it is connected by a private bridge. The right-hand section, characterized by an imposing portal to water and by two pentafore, communicates and integrates with the other, which has a similar impact if it were not for the replacement of polifore with a serliana culminating in windows quadrangular. The other sparse single-lancet windows are of no artistic importance, with the happy exception of those on the noble floor, with round arches. Rear facade: overlooking the Forner swimming pool, it has single-light columns enlivened by the presence of a serliana.

Other palaces and Civil architecture include:
Ariani Palace;
Palazzo Balbi;
Barbarigo Palace;
Palazzo Barbarigo Nani Mocenigo;
Palazzo Barbaro Wolkoff;
Basadonna Giustinian Recanati Palace;
Ca ‘Bembo;
Ca ‘Bernardo;
Bernardo Nani Lucheschi Palace;
Ca ‘Biondetti;
Brandolin Rota Palace;
Caotorta Angaran Palace;
Clary Palace;
Contarini Dal Zaffo Palace;
Contarini Palaces of Scrigni and Corfu;
Contarini Michiel Palace;
Costantini Palace;
Palaces Da Mula Morosini and Centani Morosini;
Ca ‘Dolfin (Palazzo Secco Dolfin or Palazzo Dolfin);
Palazzo Foscarini (Palazzo Foscarini ai Carmini);
Genoese Palace;
Giustinian Palace;
Giustinian Recanati Palace;
Hospital of the Incurables;
Loredan Palace of the Ambassador;
Mainella House (Marioni building);
Maravegia Palace;
Ca ‘Masieri;
Palazzo Mocenigo Gambara;
Molin Palace in San Basegio;
Palazzo Moro in San Barnaba;
Palazzetto Nani Mocenigo;
Scrovegni Hospice;
Querini Palace to Charity;
Salviati Palace;
Santomaso house;
Luganegheri School;
Varoteri school;
Palazzetto Stern;
Ca ‘Zenobio degli Armeni;

Religious Architecture

Church of Santa Maria della Salute
On 22 October 1630, during the plague epidemic that hit Venice, Doge Nicolò Contarini publicly declared that a church would be built in the name of the Salute as an oath to put an end to the calamity. A year later, in 1631, the plague epidemic ended and in 1687 the Basilica was completed. For the construction of the church 11 projects were proposed, of which Baldassarre Longhena was chosen.

The project included an enormous facade reminiscent of palladium, with a beautiful door in the center. The façade was raised with a series of stairs to give the church an even greater grandeur. The interior has a central area on an octagonal plane. On the sides there is an equal number of arches divided by columns. There are numerous works of art: Pentecoste, San Rocco and San Sebastiano, Davide and Golia, Cain and Abel by Titian; The marriage of Tintoretto and Iona at Cana of Galilee and Samson of Palma the Younger. In Venetian Baroque style.

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The Jesuits (Santa Maria del Rosario)
The largest 18th century cathedral complex in Venice, built between 1726 and 1735 for the Dominicans to replace the church, which has become too small for the faithful. Giorgio Massari was the architect who designed the church in Venetian Rococo style and the interior decoration in collaboration with two great artists of the time: Giambattista Tiepolo and Gian Maria Morlaiter. These three have become famous over time for the wonderful work they have done here. The church is dedicated to the Madonna del Rosario, represented in the ceiling fresco by Tiepolo.

Church of San Barnaba
Erected in 809 by the Adorni / Adami family, it was destroyed by the fire of 1105, but thanks to the offerings of the faithful it was rededicated in 1350.

Church of San Raffaele Arcangelo
According to a popular tradition, it was raised for the first time in 416, and during the following centuries it was destroyed and rebuilt several times, up to the last consecration which dates back to 1740.

Church of San Sebastiano
Antonio Scarpignano’s rather rigorous 1508-48 facade creates a feeling of deceptively modesty in this church. The interior is decorated, from floor to ceiling, by Paolo Veronese’s masterpieces, created over three decades. According to a local popular legend, Veronese found refuge in San Sebastiano in 1555 after fleeing the murder charge in Verona, and his work in this church is a thank you to the parish. Veronese has decided to be buried here, under his masterpieces: his commemorative bust is to the right of the body.

Church of San Trovaso
The church of San Trovaso (Venetian contraction indicating the saints Gervasio and Protasio ) is a religious building in the city of Venice located in the district of Dorsoduro, in the field of the same name. The church was built in the early days after the foundation of Venice, and immediately became a parish church. It was rebuilt in 1028 by the Barbarigo and Caravella families.

A singular feature of the building is the double façade, one facing the Campo San Trovaso and the other facing the homonymous stream. According to tradition, the double entrance was used to keep the rival factions of Castellani and Nicolotti separate, when both went to church on the occasion of the feast of the saints, in order to avoid the outbreak of fights.

Church of Santa Maria dei Carmini
The church of Santa Maria dei Carmini, also called Santa Maria del Carmelo or commonly “i Carmini” is a church in Venice, located in the Dorsoduro district and overlooking Campo dei Carmini. The style is that of a typically Gothic building which, due to numerous subsequent interventions, has undergone changes. The plant has an elongated basilica shape, with three naves with a transept and a deep presbytery, on the sides of which chapels have been placed.

The façade is in Renaissance style with three curvilinear pediments, attributed to Sebastiano da Lugano (1507-1514). On the crown you can admire the statues of the Redeemer, the Archangel Gabriel, the Virgin and Saints Elia and Eliseo, attributed to Giovanni Buora. The ancient bell tower, located next to the church, was rebuilt in 1676 by Giuseppe Sardi. The square belfry is surmounted by an octagonal temple, on top of which is placed the statue of the Madonna del Carmelo, a copy of the original destroyed by lightning in 1979.

Church of San Nicolò dei Mendicoli
The church of San Nicolo dei Mendicoli or the Beggar is a religious building in the city of Venice, located in the district of Dorsoduro. The church of San Nicolò dei Mendicoli is one of the oldest in Venice: it is assumed that a first building already existed in the seventh century. The building from the 7th century was replaced by the current church from the 13th century, with a Romanesque basilica plan with three naves. This second building was also extensively remodeled over time, both on the outside, with the addition in the 15th century of a small portico on the northern side, and on the inside, very rich, where in the 16th century the central nave was decorated with gilded wood statues.

Other churches may be more majestic, but none are more Venetian than this 12th-century church with a history of service to the poor. It once served as a shelter for women, and its portico protected the Mendicoli (beggars) to whom it owes its name. The tiny and picturesque campo (piazza) outside is a miniature Venice, surrounded on three sides by canals and depicting a column with the lion of San Marco. The dark interior is illuminated by an 18th century gilded portico and many bright paintings, including Giovanni Palma’s masterpiece “Resurrection” (1610) behind, to the left of the organ. The right front chapel is a typical Venetian response to Rome’s insistent orders to limit music in Venetian churches: Madonna in Gloria, fully enjoying the concert of angels on flutes, lutes and violins.

Other religious architecture include:
Church of Santa Maria della Carità;
Church of the Holy Spiri;
Church of Sant’Agnese;
Church of the Catechumens;
Church of San Gregorio;
Church of Santa Margherita;
Church of Santa Marta;
Church of the Hermits;
Saint George Church;
Church of Santa Maria della Visitazione;
All Saints Church;
Church of San Pantalon;
Church of Terese.

Cultural space

Peggy Guggenheim Collection
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a museum on the Grand Canal in Venice based in Palazzo Venier dei Leoni. The second most visited Venetian museum. Mainly collecting the personal art collection of Peggy Guggenheim (1898–1979), ex-wife of artist Max Ernst and nephew of the magnate Solomon R. Guggenheim, this museum, once also the private home of Peggy Guggenheim, collects a collection in somehow smaller and more concentrated than those of the other Guggenheim museums.

In autumn 2016, the museum was expanded with the purchase of a final building. A new cafeteria, a small educational center and a warehouse for the works have been created. Thanks to the relocation of the cafeteria, it was possible to free up new exhibition rooms. The museum also opened to the public in an educational way.

Accademia Galleries
The Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice is an Italian state museum. They collect the best collection of Venetian and Venetian art, especially linked to paintings from the period from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century: among the major artists represented are Tintoretto, Giambattista Pittoni, Tiziano, Canaletto, Giorgione, Giovanni Bellini, Vittore Carpaccio, Cima da Conegliano and Veronese. There are also preserved other forms of art such as sculptures and drawings, including the famous Vitruvian Man ofLeonardo da Vinci (exhibited only on special occasions).

Among the most important paintings of the Academy are: Gentile Bellini: Procession in Piazza San Marco (1496) and Miracle of the Cross at the Bridge of San Lorenzo (1500), Giovanni Bellini: Pietà (1500), Jacopo Bellini: Madonna with Child and Cherubini (c. 1450), Paris Bordenone: A fisherman presents to the doge the ring of San Marco (c. 1535), Vittore Carpaccio: Legend of Sant’Orsola (1490-1498), Cima da Conegliano: The Holy Virgin below the Orange (1496 ca.), Giorgione (1477-1510): The Tempest and the Old Woman (“The old one”), Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506): San Giorgio, Veronese Paolo (1528-1588): The feast in house of Levi (1573), Tintoretto: The miracles of San Marco (1548) and Titian.

Great School of the Carmini
The Scuola Grande dei Carmini is a palace in Venice, located in the Dorsoduro district, in the Calle della Scuola which connects Campo Santa Margherita and Campo dei Carmini. It is the seat of the homonymous school of devotion and charity. The School had as its purpose the charitable works, such as assistance to the poor and the sick or the “maritar donzele” with the due dowry, as well as the purposes of solidarity among the members (something now similar to insurance). The sustenance of the school was based on the income from the growing real estate assets.

Dedicated to the Madonna del Carmelo, with its luxurious interiors by Giambattista Tiepolo and Baldassare Longen. This school (religious fraternity) was the only one of the six large schools that recognized women and founded the place in the 13th century. Carmini continued to welcome dispossessed and prodigal travelers until Napoleon’s occupation of Venice. Music in Mask concerts are currently taking place here and Carmini members continue to organize charities to this day.

Vedova Foundation
Created by the artist himself and his wife, mainly engaged in promoting the art and creativity of Emilio Vedova and studying his role in 20th century contemporary art.

Leonardo’s Machines in Venice
An exhibition in the Church of San Barnaba showing about forty machine models reproduced from Leonardo’s codices. Some of the exhibits are interactive and copies of the codes are available for further reading. It was supposed to finish in 2012, since the church, an attraction in itself. It’s the one under which Indiana Jones finds the catacombs in The Last Crusade.

Museum of the Venetian Eighteenth Century
Ca ‘Rezzonico is one of the most famous palaces of Venice, contains municipal collections relating to the eighteenth century attempts to revive the domestic atmosphere of the Venetian nobility. It is divided into three important horizontal bands: the ground floor, enriched with ashlar decorations and a three-hole water portal with architrave and two noble floors, characterized by columns and round-arched windows with keystone heads. Each floor ends with coupled columns. The mezzanine attic is characterized by oval single-lancet windows, hidden in the articulated design of the facade. The plan of the building is very complex: it has a large ballroom, which occupies two floors in height, connected to the ground floor by a majestic monumental staircase. Apart from this extraordinary exception, the Palazzo is organized according to a traditional plan: it has a large portego in the center, which overlooks both the Grand Canal and the central courtyard: on both sides there are smaller rooms.

Reopened to the public after a restoration, the museum arrange the works in a natural way, almost as if they were part of the furniture. In addition to precious furniture and jewels, it also contains the most important paintings by Venetian artists of the 18th century, such as Giandomenico and Giambattista Tiepolo, Rosalba Carriera, Canaletto and the Longi and Guardi families. Thanks to donations, the museum’s collection has recently been reconstituted with another 300 works by artists such as Cima da Conegliano, Alvise Vivarini, Bonifacio de Pitati, Tintoretto, Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, as well as many other works of art. The museum is spread over four floors and visitors can also relax or have a snack in the large reception area, café or in the lovely garden.

Public Place

Rafts riverside street
It is a long and sunny walk along the Giudecca canal, protected during the winter from the cold north winds to be exposed to the south and sheltered from the buildings. You might find it interesting to see how a gondola is made, stopping at the Squero (in Venetian it is a small shipyard) across the canal near the church of San Trovaso. It is one of the few still in business in the city. With any luck, you will see some gondolas through various production steps. Along the street you can find some to the Jesuits Church, the Holy Spirit Church and at the Salons.

Squero di San Trovaso
The squero di San Trovaso, meaning “yard” in Venetian, is the classic yard where small boats such as gondolas, pupparini, sandoli, s’ciopóni were built and repaired and other vessels typical of the Venetian naval tradition. That of San Trovaso rises along the homonymous river and dates back to the seventeenth century. It is one of the very few shipyards still in operation in Venice, even if today only gondolas are produced or repaired there, while in the past the shipbuilding activity also extended to other types of boats.

The building that houses it has the typical shape of mountain houses, an exceptional circumstance for Venice, due to the inspiration of the squerarioli accustomed to working with wood and above all to the Cadore origins of many shipwrights. This wooden hut on the Rio di San Trovaso looks like a ski chalet, where refurbished gondolas are drying in the courtyard. It is best to look through the canal, but if the door is open, you can look inside.

Accademia Bridge
The Accademia Bridge is the southernmost of the four Venice bridges that cross the Grand Canal. It connects San Vidal to the former Church of Santa Maria della Carità. This bridge, called Ponte della Carità, was immediately built and opened to the public, at toll, on November 20, 1854. The name derives from the nearby complex of the Charity which includes the Convent, the Church of Santa Maria della Carità and the Scuola Grande della Carità. These buildings, deconsecrated and in disuse, later became the seat of the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice and currently house the Gallerie dell’Accademia.

The bridge began to present static problems after a few years, due to the weakness of some points of the structure, and in the Fascist period it now presented worrying signs of deterioration and corrosion. While waiting for the construction of a new stone bridge,, a temporary wooden bridge was build. However, the deck wood needs constant and very expensive maintenance. In 1986 it was necessary to completely replace the wooden elements, with the insertion of metal arches able to better support the structure. For these reasons, the possibility of replacing it was considered on various occasions, creating the definitive bridge on the winning project by Torres and Bisazza, which has not yet been implemented. The choice of a reconstruction or not was dictated by the excessive maintenance costs.

Tags: Italy