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Ca d’Oro

Ca d’Oro (21)

The long parade of architectural jewels that a ride along the Grand Canal represents deserves a special stop-off at a wonderful palace called Ca’ d’Oro, which means the House of Gold. The name comes from the gilded ornamentation that once gave the palace façade a special splendour.

The building shares with the Palazzo Ducale the fact of being the best example of Venetian florid Gothic style. Despite the fact that the current aspect of Ca’ d’Oro is the result of an eventful history, it still gives us the perfect idea of the level of splendour that it must have transmitted in the 15th century, when it was built.

With their mind set on building the most lavish palace in the city, its first owner, Marino Contarini, in 1420 surrounded himself with the most important architects and craftsmen of the time to ensure the very best results. Ca’ d’Oro was then designed by Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bon, while the splendid decoration involved the efforts of craftsmen under the orders of Matteo Raverti.

With its symmetry and oriental airs, the façade is one of the building’s strong points. On it, the windows with ogee arches, similar to a curtain, and the pinnacles coexist with polychrome details and a captivating tracery in marble.

After a period of time in which the palace changed hands several times and came to be practically abandoned, the worst time the building experienced was in the mid-19th century. In 1846 the Russian Prince Troubetskoy bought it for his loved one, the ballerina Maria Taglioni. That was when its new owners undertook a series of remodelling that almost smothered the spirit of the original Ca’ d’Oro. Suffice to say, they sold a beautiful ornamental parapet by Bartolomeo Bon and demolished a distinctive stairway.

However, everything returned to normal when in 1894 the building was bought by Baron Giorgio Franchetti. The aristocrat, known for his role as patron of the arts, did all in his power to make good the architectural barbarities that had been carried out. The façade was restored, from which part of the carved stone had been removed, and both the stairway and parapet that had disappeared from the courtyard were also recovered.

Finally, in 1916 the Baron gave both the palace and his art collections to the State, and in 1927 Ca d’Oro opened to the public as a museum. 

On its two floors you will be able to see Gothic furniture and Flemish tapestries and even Renaissance sculptures. Nevertheless, of special importance are its examples of Venetian painting, among which feature The Annunciation and The Life and Death of the Virgin, by Vittore Carpaccio and, above all, Saint Sebastian, by Andrea Mantegna.

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