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Fondaco dei Turchi

Fondaco dei Turchi (17)

This massive building, whose imposing main façade is facing the Grand Canal, was built between the 12th and 13th centuries as a warehouse for the goods brought from the Orient in the frequent trade dealings of the period.

The towers on each side are a rather unusual feature of the structure, with a seemingly defensive function, as well as  the portico on the ground floor and the arcades on the upper floors, which fall within what is known as Venetian-Byzantine style. However, the current aspect, with the façade covered in marble, is due to a restoration promoted by the council in the 20th century in order to house the collections of the Correr Museum here.

In its origins, the building belonged to the important Pesaro family. In 1381, the State gave it to the marquises of Ferrara, who had provided valuable assistance to Venice during the War of Chioggia. It was in 1621 when it began to be used as a warehouse for Turkish traders, which is where it gets its name from. These merchants, who unloaded the goods onto the porch facing the canal, continued their work here until 1838.

In 1922, the Comune di Venezia, which had acquired the ruined fondaco in 1858 and reconditioned it, decided to move the objects from the Correr Museum to its current home in the Piazza San Marco. However, the ethnography and natural history collections remained here, and in 1923 what would formally become the Museum of Natural History of Venice was founded, which was opened to the public in 1928.

The museum, which includes the valuable archives of the Istituto Veneto di Scienza, Lettere ed Arti, shows fossils and stuffed animals, among which include a much-valued skeleton of Ouranosaurus nigeriensis, an ancestor reptile of the crocodile. You can also discover curious facts about the flora and fauna of the lagoon.

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