Travel Tuesday: The ORIGINAL Ghetto, Venice

Most of us associate the word ‘ghetto’ with the slums of America. The council estates or ‘projects’ as they’re known, depending on the country you’re in. What most of us don’t know that the word, “ghetto” actually originated from Venice, Italy. I also didn’t know this until I traveled to Venice, discovered the ghetto and learnt about its origins.

The ghetto had come up in conversation, yet I was only able to explore the area the second time that I visited Venice. It was really close to our hotel so we took a little stroll down the canals to see if we could find a walking tour. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a tour but just explored the area ourselves.

According to Wikipedia, “The English word “ghetto” is derived from the Jewish ghetto in Venice, originating from the Venetian ghèto and Italian ghetto.” It was born in 1516! This is why I love travelling to Europe. The way their history impacts our daily living today is so powerful. It was formed to restrict Jewish people living in the area.

The ‘ghetto’ in Venice has a large diamond shaped square with memorial plaques to eternalise those removed during WW2. You really feel so awful just knowing how so many people were treated during the war. We often talk about the 6 million Jewish people who died, but what about the non-Jewish people who also perished? What a crappy time to be alive.

The plaque states, The city of Venice remember the Venetian Jews who were deported to the nazi concentration camps on December 5th, 1943 and August 17th 1944.”

“Men, women, children, masses for the gas chambers. Advancing toward horror beneath the whip of the executioner/ You sad holocaust is engraved in history and nothing shall purge your deaths from our memories. For our memories are your only grave.”

Sorry to be all doom and gloom today! But it really was the most ridiculous time in history and it’s really moving when you visit these sites and think about the lives that were destroyed “in the making”. Today, it’s a quiet, peaceful neighbourhood on the outskirts of Venice. There are a number of interesting building in the square, but I didn’t have internet to look them up. Perhaps I can return one day to learn more 🙂




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  1. says: David Lane

    The word “ghetto” is believed by most to have come from the copper foundries that were in this location in Cannaregio prior to the creation of a permanent residence for Venezia’s Jewish population in 1516.