Bernardo San Polo Palace


Venice: Palazzo Bernardo San Polo - 22 kB

General remarks:

Date:after 1450
Address:San Polo 2184,2195
Current use:private
Overview map:locate


It's a very good conserved example of a late-gothic two-family palace. It forms a great ensemble with the palazzo Sanudo. John Ruskin remarks the façade's quality and sets the palace's architectonical importance directly behind the Doge's Palace ("...of the finest kind, and superb in its effect of colour when seen from the side ... But, taken as a whole, I think that, after the Ducal Palace, this is the noblest in effect of all in Venice." - The Stones of Venice, 'Venetian Index').
The porteghi are today subdivided, the 2nd piano nobile still has rococo ceiling frescoes in the rooms overlooking the Canale.
Also here (like at Palazzo Pisani-Moretta) the size of the courtyard (no public access!) was originally the double of today's size. Today it is reduced to a small light courtyard behind the middle part of the building. Initially, it extended to the Rio di Ca'Bernardo at the right side of the building. Presumably there was also a water gate. The porteghi's windows to the court are now serliana arches with large balconies. The large arch which opened the androne towards the court is now bricked up, but there's still conserved an interesting capital.
Most probably the access to the piani nobili was originally provided an open stairway. Today a round staircase (which could not be photographed satisfyingly) behind the right wing of the building is connected to the balconies of the porteghi.
The façade is a work of high sculptural quality. Especially the capitals of the portego loggias and the round disks above the windows of the building's wings (also called tondi) are remarkable.
Being the singular example of two high rectangular windows built very near to the gate, the water gate is a particularity. Additionally, there are oculi over the gate's pointed arch.
Also a bricked up aperture at the left of the gate, whose initial form is now known, is visible on the façade. The façade has the characteristic corner frames looking like turned ropes, which can also be found on other palace façades.
When I was at the palazzo end of August/beginning of September 1999, there was a protection on the water façade and over the Calle di Ca'Bernardo. As far as I was told, there was the danger of falling stones... An integral restoration is obviously necessary.
May 2003: restoration begun.
December 2003: restoration terminated. The wing towards the calle now in red plaster, the stone parts of the façade were cleaned.

Additional pictures:

Detail Loggia of the first piano nobile (1999)
43 kB (100x67)

Bernardo coat of arms in the first piano nobile loggia (2004)
32 kB (66x100)

capital of the left corner window(2004)
27 kB (67x100)

Related buildings


Arslan (1970) p. 194, 253, 258, 269
Concina (1995) p. 108
Diruf (1990) p. 87-97
Maretto (1961) p. 76, 78, 84, 86

External resources


© 1999-2007 J.-Ch. Rößler
Venice architecture - palaces

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