Storia di Palazzo Contarini
It is an ancient fourteenth century palace, a few steps from Piazza San Marco.
Access is through an ancient portico that opens onto a private courtyard.
embellished with marble cuts and Byzantine friezes, while the water door leads to the Palace,
along the network of canals that makes Venice unique in the world.
- Palazzo Contarini della Porta di Ferro owes its construction to the ancient lineage of the Morosini della Sbarra, of which it was for centuries the family home and then passed to the Contarini family from which the palace took its name. Overlooking the Salizada of Santa Giustina in the Venetian sestiere of Castello, the most ancient and fascinating heart of this city, the Palazzo maintains its secluded character and preserves the elements typical of the ancient Venetian residence: the double entrance from the rio and calle, the courtyard with the wellhead, the external staircase leading to the Piano Nobile and the large Salone.
- Some columns of the balustrades were obviously removed later. On the landing and precisely on the handrail of the balustrade you can admire a sculpture of the two-faced god Iano, often represented in classical literature. Some remains of more or less original external polychrome frescoes are still visible on the right rear façade. In 1799 the branch of the Contarini family, called of San Francesco della Vigna, became extinct.
- That of the Contarini is one of the oldest Venetian families: it appears for the first time in a document dated June 960, but the ancient tradition even places it among the “apostolic” families who would have the first Doge in Eraclea. Over the centuries, the family numbered eight Doges – more than any other Venetian family – and as many as forty-four Procurators of San Marco.
- The Palace contains some of the stylistic, architectural and decorative modules that can be considered peculiar to the Venetian architecture of the early fifteenth century. Enough to be cited as a model by the same contemporaries. This is the case of the prestigious Cà d’Oro on the Grand Canal, rebuilt between 1424 and 1437 by Marino Contarini.
History of Palazzo Contarini
At Gasparino Morosini, one of the most active markets in Venice with commercial interests extended to the entire Mediterranean basin, the two coats of arms engraved in the Istrian stone pillar that holds the wooden architrave of the entrance “sotoportego” from the street are to be traced: a cross inscribed in a ring in relief, which in turn is surmounted by a stylized “G”.
The descendants Bertucci and Lunardo Contarini (1444) then assumed for themselves and for their descendants the nickname “Porta di Ferro”. This denomination originates from the heavy and beautiful portal – adorned by a dense network of metal brocchettoni – which for centuries characterized the building, and which unfortunately was lost around the middle of the nineteenth century (there are testimonies in eighteenth-century drawings preserved in the Museum Correr).
In this period the historical character of Stjepan Kosasa was a guest of the Republic, a mixture of libertarian hero, irredentist and bandit, who for his possible role as defender even military of the area was given accommodation at the Palazzo dei Contarini at the Iron Gate .
After a long and sumptuous stay at the expense of the Republic, pacts of military support and subsidization were formulated by the Serenissima with which the hero returned to his territory. In the area he controlled, he took the title of Herzog even though he had never been assigned either by the Hapsburg Empire or by the Republic. It is from this abusive title that it took the name of the territory today called Herzegovina. Herzog Stjepan Kosasa in fact marked the birth of the State and he was responsible for the construction of the famous suspension bridge over the Neretva river with which the eastern part was joined to the western part of the territory controlled by him.
Details of a historic home
- The two coats of arms of the Contarini family decorated the magnificent fourteenth-century portal of the Palace for centuries (until they were brutally chiseled between 1839 and 1840). Despite the insult brought by the hand of man, however, this still represents one of the characteristic elements of the building. Above the architrave it shows a magnificent angel holding a cartouche, on which the motto “Pac Huic Domuic” is read. A beautiful Romanesque ring frames the figure.
- Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, the Palazzo suffered a slow but inexorable process of abandonment and fragmentation, which threatened to compromise some of its most original features. Hence the bet of his recovery aimed at tracing and bringing to light the signs of his most ancient history, hidden under heavy plaster, respecting and restoring the original function of the Palace, that of a mansion and dwelling. Here then is the effort to optimize spaces and structures, to obtain not only large apartments but also rational and functional suites. All with great attention to materials, with the intention of enhancing stone, wood and plaster. Palazzo Contarini was thus returned to the city with an architectural recovery that enhanced the existing building adapting it to the needs of our time, and recreated that refined and elegant atmosphere, but at the same time familiar, for those, even for just one night , they will inhabit his rooms. From the ancient Venetian residence Ca ‘Contarini della Porta di Ferro has kept all the most original elements: the double entrance from the calle and the rio, the court with the wellhead, the garden with a pretty fountain, a beautiful external staircase that leads to to the luminous Piano Nobile. Inside there are the ancient coffered ceilings – in some of which the beautiful fifteenth-century decoration is still visible – in some of which the beautiful fifteenth-century decoration is still visible today – some of the geometric and floral motifs that enriched the elegant facade , rooms and stairs embellished with friezes and ornaments. An Androne, with elegant style furniture, immediately projects the guest into the atmosphere of a true Venetian Palace.
- On the Noble Floor opens the large Salone delle Feste, gently flooded by the light of the polyphora overlooking the internal courtyard. On the fourth floor (reachable by elevator) the large attics with mezzanines and exposed beams. Finally, the “water gate” allows access to the Palazzo da rio of San Francesco della Vigna. From the entrance a historic staircase leads to the great “Salone delle Feste”. The typical seminato flooring, the sober lacquered beams of the ceiling, the glass window overlooking the internal garden make the Salone the ideal venue for parties, gala dinners, meetings or business meetings.