The Giudecca island


The Giudecca in the view "Venetie MD"

The oblong island south of Venice is located opposite the Zattere which delimit the Dorsoduro sestiere, and is separated from Venice by the Giudecca canal. Formerly, the island was called vigano or, due to its form, Spinalonga ("long spur"). As the view "Venetie MD" proves, the Giudecca was only partially urbanized during the middle ages and had villas on the north side and large gardens. The bell tower on the right belonged to the gothic church of John the Baptist, visible on a painting by Canaletto, but later destroyed. It remains unclear, whether the name Giudecca is derived from Jews (giudei) living on that island, or from prisoners being deported there. (In 1516, the Venetian Jews were forced to live in the Ghetto) Recently, Franco Filippi outlined the possibility that tanneries (Zudeca), which are normally located in peripheral parts of a city, gave the island its name. Their existence is proved for the 13th century. In a map reproduced by Temanza, the island is called "Judaica". Quarters named Giudecca can also be found in cities such as Palermo, Trapani, Syracuse and Lecce.

Villas on the Giudecca

From the 15th century on, the Giudecca was, like Murano, covered with Villas like those shown on the left. Due to the numerous demolitions which were part of the massive structural changes of the island during the 19th century, only few of these palace-villas have survived. The loss of the palace Vendramin alla Giudecca, a large renaissance which once belonged to the Doge Andrea Vendramin, but was transformed into a warehouse in the 19th century, is the most unfortunate example, but its decay already began in the 18th century, when the Vendramin inherited the Palazzo Vendramin Calergi. Among the remaining buildings, which are in most cases disfigured today, another Palazzo Vendramin and the palazzi Da Ponte Minelli, Mocenigo, Emo Donà De Franceschi, Maffetti, Moro Gritti and Foscari have to be named. In 1712, the Accademia dei Nobili, a college for Venetian noblemen founded in 1609 by Ferrigo Contarini S. Trovaso, was installed in the Palazzo Cavalli on the Fondamenta San Eufemia. The so-called Rocca Bianca from the 16th century, remodeled in 1913 and 2004, is based on the Venetian palace typology as well. It was probably once property of the Visconti-Sforza, as crest of these Milan families was once to be found on the facade, and later belonged to a branch of the Trevisan. At the southern end of the Rio de la Croce, the Casinò of Marina Sagredo Pisani with its vast garden, called Giardino Eden after its former owner Frederic Eden, is an interesting example of garden culture.

Giudecca in the morning. From Ponte Longo to the Stucky mill

Il Redentore (church of the Redeemer), built from 1576 on behalf of the Republic to thank for the end of the plague, is the most important church on the Giudecca and one of Andrea Palladios masterpieces. Its facade, consisting of two interlocking temple fronts, dominates the Giudecca canal. The near church of Santa Maria della Presentazione, also known as Le Zitelle, is often attributed to Palladio as well. Santa Eufemia in the west of the island is the oldest remaining church. In 1823, the church of San Giacomo was destroyed.

During the 18th century, Venetian patricians abandoned the Giudecca. In 1624, eighteen noble families lived on the island, but in 1761, none of them had remained. A massive structural change had begun. Like other areas at the periphery of Venice, industries replaced the former gardens during the 19th century. Currently, the largest and most interesting of these industrial constructions Molino Stucky, a former mill, is being converted into a luxury hotel. Since the French occupation, several churches and monasteries, such as Santa Croce or SS. Cosma e Damiano, are used by the military, and still today, the Convertiti convent is the female prison of Venice. Around 1810, Giannantonio Selva elaborated a plan for a large military building called passeggiata on the eastern end, but the project remained unbuilt. Generally, the Giudecca is inhabited by the lower class, but recently enjoys an increase in popularity.

Unfortunately, the chance offered by the decay of the industries after the Second World War and the subsequent vacancy of the buildings and areas was missed. Undeveloped areas near the Rio de Ponte Longo were recently covered with monstrous housing constructions. These new blocks, named Judeca Nova, have no architectural quality.



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