Venice’s Jewish Museum is to get an innovative makeover that will give
visitors a snapshot of the city’s 16th century Jewish Ghetto.
Overcrowding, cramped living quarters and a lack of hygiene meant that life was tough but safe within the confines, and tourists will soon get a sense of it at the Jewish Museum in Campo del Ghetto Nuovo, the square at the heart of the ghetto.
Visitors will enter a flat located under the historic German Synagogue, which will be rebuilt based on the model of the Jewish houses of the 16th century.
“Tourists will realise how difficult the life of the Jews was,” said historian David Landau, who is overseeing the project. “The ghetto was both prison and protection. As long as residents remained inside, no one could harm them.”
The museum incorporates some of the city’s most important and ancient synagogues as well as Jewish dwellings dating back to the start of the Renaissance. Amid the complex is Venice’s oldest synagogue, the German Synagogue, which was built in 1528, along with the Canton Synagogue, built in 1532. The Spanish and Levantine synagogues, also built in the mid-16th century, lie just outside.
“Residents came out of their lodgings and, through internal passages, they climbed into the synagogues,” said Landau. “They were much higher, more ventilated, and better illuminated than their homes.”