Cover Picture © Credits to Wikimedia/Godromil
Cover Picture © Credits to Wikimedia/Godromil

A palace made of gold: Ca D'oro in Venice

2 minutes to read

One of the most iconic, even "souvenir-like" architecture pieces of Venice, is Ca D'oro.  Widely used on postcards, or as a common intro of the tourist guides of the city, this House's ("Ca" comes from Casa) construction started in 1420,  upon a request of  Marin Contarini. He was a wealthy, well-standing politician and part of the Contarini family. This is one of the twelve founding families of the Venetian Republic- the apostolic families-, and still remains present in the Veneto's population, represented in over twenty auxiliary and cadet noble branches. 

As you are expecting, one of the founders of the Venetian Republic would like to present the power and the "blue-blondeness" through his personal residence. The second name of this building is Palazzo Santa Sofia. Starting with the dimension of the building area, in a period when the cities were built in a narrow manner, the owner chose to raise his palace with dimensions of 35/22m, on the northern bank of Venice's Grand Canal.

Artist José Moreno Carbonero (1860–1942)
Artist José Moreno Carbonero (1860–1942)

More luxury can be seen through the building material. One of the characteristics of this period was for the buildings to be built with brick structures covered with lime mortar. However, in this case, the bricks are covered with white marble. The ornately carved marble facade captures everyone's attention nowadays. Imagine how impressive it was back then, when the facade was actually thin-coated partly with gold and painted with a strong ultramarine colour (the pigment of this colour is made with semi-precious stone lapis lazuli, back then imported from Afghanistan). Even if the lapis lazuli was more expensive than the actual gold, the shine and fame of the gold it's what gave the name to this the palace. Let's be honest, Ca Di Lapsis Lazuli doesn't roll on the tongue.

Picture © Credits to Wikimedia/Didier Descouens
Picture © Credits to Wikimedia/Didier Descouens

This Gothic architectural jewellery went through many owners during its existence. True rise and falls! It took over a decade to finish it. The main couple (father and son) artists, Jovani and Bartolomeo Bon, worked mainly on the main facade, dedicating their careers to it. During one period, this object was given as a present to the Russian ballerina, Marie Taglioni, somewhere in the middle of 19th century. During this ownership, most of the golden details of the facade were sold out, and the gothic staircase in the inner yard was demolished. All in all, it was considered a very dark period for this house. As expected, a "bright sun over-shined the house" and it was soon traded to the ownership of Baron Giorgio Franchetti in 1894. This is a period of solid restoration and long expected stability for this object. Once its restoration work was complete, the Baron handed in the house to the Italian government, and it soon opened to the public as an art gallery, in 1927. Today you can still visit this house thanks to this man! Take advantage of the opportunity...this building has a long and interesting story to tell.


Interesting towns related to this story


The author

Zlata Golaboska

Zlata Golaboska

I am Zlata and I am an architect living in the Balkans. I am passionate about cities, how people influence architecture and vice versa, and how places change our lives.

Stories you might also like