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Cannaregio

Jewish Ghetto

Jewish Ghetto, Cannaregio, Venice

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The name of this sestiere contains the word canna, meaning "cane". In fact, this area was full of swamps and reeds before being inhabited.
The sestiere contains the Jewish Ghetto. This area used to be home to a metal factory, named geto in Venetian (which literally means "slag"). Interestingly enough, this is the origin of the current word "ghetto".
Jewish settlements here date back to the 4th century, but the community grew when Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. At first the Jewish community was tolerated, but in the 16th century, all Jews were forced to live in the Ghetto. This situation became ever more common in countries in Europe.
The situation changed with Napoleon's rule, which gave the Jewish community the same rights as the other Venetian citizens. Today it has just a few hundred members, but the area still shows the changes brought by the community: many synagogues have been built and because of the ever-growing population and the impossibility to expand its territory, the ghetto is characterized by rather high buildings, which is unusual for the city's landscape.
The two main attractions in Cannaregio are the Renaissance style church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli and the baroque Santa Maria di Nazareth, also known as Chiesa degli Scalzi ("church of the barefoot").
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