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Ghetto Venice Ghetto | Ghetto Vecchio

16th century Jewish Ghetto in Venice

The Serenissima attributed a well-defined residential area to each foreign community.

The Giudecca Island

The Gheto Novo Square in the Cannaregio District in Venice.
The Gheto Novo Square.
In the 12th century, the island of Spinalunga was attributed to the Jewish community, which was the most important after the Greeks.

Then, Spinalunga Island took the name of Giudecca when the Jews settled there.

In 1527, a decree ordered the Jews to move to the Cannaregio area, where the former gun foundries were located.

The First Venice Ghetto

The word ghetto comes from the Italian word “Geto” (fusion).

The guttural pronunciation of “Geto” in “Ghetto” is explained by the emphasis of Ashkenazi Jews from Germany and Central Europe.

The Rio del Ghetto in Venice in Italy
Rio del Ghetto
Also, be aware that the Municipality of Venice, like to convert names in the Venetian language by almost systematically removing double consonants, has transformed all the signs and inscriptions linked to the “Ghetto” into “Gheto” with a single “t”.

Getting back to the origin of the word, Ghetto could also be a pun synthesizing “Geto” with the Talmudic term “Ghet” (separation)... the “neighbourhood” of fusion was indeed the one of separation since all Jews had to be housed in The Ghetto.

Every night we closed the gates of the Ghetto.

No Jew had to circulate in the city any more.

But, at the same time, the same was also true for the Venetians who lived in the foreigner's neighbourhood of Alexandria, Egypt.

They were locked up even in the middle of the day, during the religious offices of the mosque.

A “Geto” of Knowledge

Wellhead Campo de Ghetto Nuovo in Venice in Italy
Wellhead Campo de Ghetto Nuovo
There gathered all the Jews of the Diaspora: Sephardic refugees from Spain and Portugal, Ashkenazi from Germany and Central Europe, Levantines refugees from Constantinople...

There were various languages and dialects compared to the multiple tales and secret stories reported in inheritance.

There were Talmudists, but also Kabbalists, Gnostics, Alchemists. All this stimulated reflection and argument.

A Distinctive Sign

The Jews of the Ghetto were to point out by wearing a yellow wheel (small wheel) on the chest, then by a yellow beret or hat (in the Middle Ages, yellow was the infamous colour of madness and crime).

Campo de Ghetto Nuovo Square in Venice in Italy
Campo de Ghetto Nuovo Square
Whoever did not wear his yellow hat had to pay a fine of 50 Ducas and make a month in prison.

Similarly, the Venetians were afraid that the Jews could poison their well, and Serenissima had decreed that they could not use the city's public wells.

Therefore, they could only use the only wells located inside the Ghetto to draw water.

This ban lasted until 1703.

The existing wells may not date back to the time of the creation of the Ghetto because the sculptures and coat of arms in it are of more recent origin, suggesting that the original wells had to be moved and replaced by them.

Ghetto Venice Ghetto | Ghetto Vecchio
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