Ca’ d’Oro, a.k.a Palazzo Santa Sofia, is one of the oldest and elegant palaces on the Grand Canal. This stunning 15th-century palace is home to the Giorgio Franchetti Gallery. A tour of Ca’ d’Oro will be an incredible addition to exploring other Venice museums and galleries.
Getting to the museum
The museum stands in Cannaregio, the second-largest neighborhood on the Venice map. One of the entrances of Ca’ d’Oro directly faces the Grand Canal and has suffered flooding during the Acqua Alta. You can reach this Venice museum by vaporetto and get off at Ca’ d’Oro stop.
History & architecture
In English, Ca’ d’Oro means the “house of gold.” The palace received such a name from the gold leaf decorations that once were on the building. The palazzo emerged between 1428 and 1430 on the commission of Marino Contarini.
Ca’ d’Oro is the finest example of combined Venetian Gothic and Renaissance styles. The facade has carved windows, oriental pinnacles, and exotic marble. These elements give the building an unmistakable Eastern flavor. Naturally, the finest Venetian artisans made the decorations and intricate carvings. The architects behind the original palace were Giovanni Bon and his son Bartolomeo.
In the 16th century, and after the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797, the palazzo changed ownership several times. It suffered many changes, some of which were destructive. In 1846, the Russian Prince Troubetzkoy bought Ca’ d’Oro for the famous ballerina Maria Taglioni. Under her direction, the Ca’ d’Oro suffered barbaric restoration. She ripped out the open staircase, sold the wellhead by Bartolomeo Bon, and removed much of the stonework. The last owner of Ca’ d’Oro was Baron Giorgio Franchetti, who acquired it in 1894. Despite everything, he restored the palace to its former glory and donated it to the city in 1922. After another facade restoration, Giorgio Franchetti Gallery opened in 1970.
Why you should visit
Inside Ca’ d’Oro are works of art of various shapes and sizes. You’ll see paintings, photographs, bronze statues, and Renaissance sculptures. Moreover, there is a compelling pottery collection. Some of the most impressive works are Venus by Titian and San Sebastiano by Andrea Mantegna. The gallery also houses works by Flemish and Dutch painters and pieces by Tintoretto, Giorgione, and Paris Bordone. There is also an incredible Portrait of Marcello Durazzo by Antoon van Dyck. After all, remember to see the Giorgio Franchetti memorial and the view of the Grand Canal from the third-floor terraces. This gallery is a perfect addition to Ca’ Pesaro and Accademia galleries. Besides, you can book a combined ticket to all three museums for an attractive price.
Things to do in the area
The location of Ca’ d’Oro on the Venice map is impressive. You’ll find two exceptional Venice churches near the gallery - Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Basilica Santi Giovanni e Paolo. Across the Grand Canal is the Rialto Mercato vaporetto stop. It is where you will see the famous Rialto Market with the freshest seafood and local produce. The well-known Rialto Bridge is near the market. If you’d like to explore more Venice museums, there are great sites near Ca’ d’Oro. In San Polo is the Ca’ Pesaro Gallery which also houses the Oriental Art Museum. Finally, fashion enthusiasts will appreciate Ca’ Mocenigo, the Fashion Museum of Venice.