The “Sestiere” of Cannaregio
The Cannaregio district is the largest in the city after Castello, and the most populated. Cannaregio in fact occupies almost the whole part of the city north of the Grand Canal, extending from the railway station to Castello, with which it borders to the east and south almost entirely.
The main waterway is the Canal di Cannaregio, which Palazzo Cendon overlooks; it connects the Grand Canal with the lagoon. It is the only internal canal of the historic centre, except for the Gran Canal, to be crossed by “vaporetti”, the water buses.
The name of the sestiere presumably derives from its conformation (when the area was still uninhabited, there were vast reed beds), a theory confirmed by fifteenth century documents: “Cannaregio impercioché was chanedo et paludo with chanelle”. However, there are several other hypotheses – including “Canal Regio” in the Hapsburg maps and “Canaleclo”, that can be found in some documents dating back to the eleventh century.
In this district there is the Ghetto of Venice – the oldest in Europe – reachable by a “sotopòrtego” placed at the end of Ponte delle Guglie and on which are still visible the iron hinges of the doors that once closed the Ghetto during the night. In the Jewish quarter there are still 5 synagogues, 2 of which are open to the public.
At the extreme north of Cannaregio and Venice, between the Ghetto of Venice, the church of Sant’Alvise and the church of Madonna dell’Orto, there are long “fondamenta” swarming with restaurants and bars frequented mostly by Venetians.