Soranzo-van Axel Palace


Venice: Palazzo Soranzo-van Axel - 23 kB

General remarks:

Address:Cannaregio 6099
Current use:private; Ufficio scolastico interregionale
Overview map:locate


The palazzo van Axel (more precisely Soranzo-Venier-Sanudo-van Axel-Barozzi) is surely one of the best conserved examples of a late gothic two-family palazzo. The palazzo was built in 1473-79 by Nicolò Soranzo, with use of material of the predecessor pre-gothic palace of the Gradenigo family. After the Soranzo, the building was property of the Venier and Sanudo. In 1628, the van Axel family acquired the palazzo. As the name tells, the family was from Axel, near Gand in Holland. In 1919, lord Dino Barozzi bought the building.
The two water façades meet in an obtuse angle as a result of the location. The main façade to the Rio della Panada is rather extensive, a fact which is cannot be recognized at once, because there is no possibility (except from the building in front) to see the façade straightly. But it can be clearly seen on the lithography by Marco Moro, which can be often found in the technical literature.
The porteghi are opened by a four-arch loggia of the sixth order. They are conserved without subdivisions, but also without any wall decorations. The decorated wood ceilings (which I could only see through windows) seem to be of a certain value.
At the interior, the private rooms gained importance, a fact which can be easily derived from the plan. At least the left wing contains another ceiling in the first piano nobile. Small windows, which are superposed in the right wing of the second piano nobile, give occasion to the assumption that also there are additional ceilings.
The land gate to the Fondamenta van Axel is certainly one of the most important ones in Venice. Althogh it is restored (the frame does not show any traces of dilapidation), it was surely similar in the fifteenth century. The very detailed coat of arms of the van Axel faimily is remarkable. It can also be found in the larger courtyard. Although some of the round wood sculptures are missing, the large wooden door is still original in most parts. The gate is also shown (in today's state) in Angiolo Tursi's book (see Literature section), leading to the conclusion that the gate restoration was before 1923.
As Jacopo de'Barbari's view of Venice shows, the additional floor above the land gate existed already around 1500, .
The courtyards (no public access!) contain the conserved gothic open stairways. Having entered the great court through the described gate, you can see the the stairway through two segment arches, which rest on a shared column. This stairway ends in the portego of the second piano nobile. A stage originally permitted the access to the rooms at the left. Another platform is at the separation wall towards the second (smaller) courtyard. Through an 'oculus', which seems to be neogothic and which was perhaps added by Barozzi, the roof and marble incrustations of the Miracoli church can be seen.
The stairway of the smaller court ends in a platform and a corridor, which is covered by a cross vault. On this corridor rest the platform and a part of the stairway of the greater court. The ramps run in contrary direction, there is a optimal usage of the space, considering the irregular plan. The slighly dilapidated, but nevertheless nice and decorative stone sculptures seem to be original.
A good conserved example of venetian gothic-style wall balustrades can also be found on the court wall. Their stone traceries seem to be partially original. Pre-gothic decorative disks, called patere, which show christian symbols and can also be found on many byzantine palaces can be found on the walls of the larger court. These of the palazzo van Axel are conserved in a good state and are most likely from the predecessor palace.
The porteghi are opened by a three-arch loggia towards the greater court. The loggia of the first piano nobile, which does not have balconies, has ionic capitals and was presumably created by the van Axel.

Palazzo van Axel is, together with Palazzo Bernardo San Polo all in all one of the most important examples of a private building of the venetian gothic epoch. Having been property of the Marsoni family since the 1950, the palace is currently for sale as a whole.

Additional pictures:

The main portal with tondi and crest in the tympan
50 kB (66x100)

a tondo in the courtyard
63 kB (147x96)

Related buildings


Arslan (1970) pp. 30s, 137, 193s, 252s, 256, 258
Concina (1995) p. 101
Diruf (1990) pp. 171-183
Lauritzen/Zielcke (1979) p. 121-124
Maretto (1961) p. 99
Tursi, Angiolo: Un palazzo veneziano del Quattrocento. Bergamo, 1923

Acknowledgements for help/information:

B. Elide; Renzo Scarpa; Carole Jacobs


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

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