Walking through the original ghetto

Updated: Jan 21, 2020

The world's first ghetto was the Jewish quarter of Venice, and today it is a place full of history and pride a little way off the beaten path. In 1516, the Venetian government ruled that Jews could live in Venice as long as they were confined to a walled area known as the Geto (foundry in the Venetian dialect). The area had been the site of a foundry and was deemed undesirable as it was relatively far away from Saint Mark's Square. Jews were permitted to be money lenders or doctors during the day time, but it was ruled that they had to be confined in their own area at night. To be easily identifiable, they were required to wear yellow hats. The ghetto was liberated by Napoleon in 1797 when his troops invaded Venice.


The far wall was used to confine Jews to the Ghetto in Venice.

Today the Ghetto is home to a Jewish Museum as well as synagogues and several shops and restaurants specializing in Jewish food and memorabilia. The synagogues and museum hold the artifacts that show how the culture thrived through the years despite the persecution. The Ghetto was, in fact, a center of printing and scholarship that defied the walls and prejudices meant to oppress the inhabitants.

The Ghetto is home today to bakeries, restaurants and art galleries. The paintings below are fanciful depictions of life in the Ghetto.

Venice's Ghetto

Venice ghetto

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