In centuries past, the district of Castello was characterized by impressive production of ships at the Arsenal, the Republic’s immense shipyard, and by the presence of all the businesses and workplaces that related to it. Today, a portion of the Arsenal is still used by the military, and therefore closed to the public. However, another large section has been donated to the Biennale Foundation and is accessible for viewing every two years during the famous art exhibition.
A walk in this neighborhood provides an overview of the history of the Venetian merchant and naval fleet, the latter once one of the greatest in the Western world. The Maritime Museum features faithful models of galleys, frigates, and galleons; of special interest is the model of the Bucintoro, the gilded parade ship of the Doge.
We pass by the majestic church of San Francesco della Vigna, where among the most notable patricians of the mid-16th century built their family chapel; each one is a masterpiece of architecture and art. We cross also the two charming little cloisters which in Spring are full of flowers.
Our walk finishes at the massive Gothic Dominican church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, where the numerous burial monuments of captains, soldiers and doges remind us of all the lauded individuals who contributed to the development and expansion of the Venetian Republic.
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