Virtual Branch: Shylock's Venice

The remarkable history of Venice’s Jews and the Ghetto

By Harry Freedman, published 18th June 2024

This is the story of the Venice Ghetto, the corner of the city where Jews were exiled; free to walk the streets by day, locked behind gates and walls at night. Yet, gates and walls notwithstanding, from its establishment in 1516 until the fall of Venice in 1798, the ghetto prison was the site of a remarkable cultural renaissance. It became Europe’s most vibrant Jewish centre. For the first time in European history Jews and Christians mingled intellectually, learning from each other, sharing ideas and entering modernity together. When it came to culture, the ghetto walls were porous.

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