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The Venetian Ghetto (in Italian, the Ghetto Ebraico) is the oldest Jewish Ghetto in Europe. It was founded in 1516 when, under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church, the Republic of Venice moved to isolate and protect Jews by requiring them to stay within the neighborhood's confines at night. (See our "Venice's Ghetto" article for more information on the district and its history.)

The Ghetto's role as a center of Jewish life and culture largely ended in World War II, when Jewish residents were shipped off to concentration camps. In recent years, messianic Jews from other cities and countries have moved back into the Ghetto, however, and you'll find a variety of  relatively new businesses and Jewish organizations in the Ghetto--among them, two hotels (the Locanda del Ghetto and the Kosher House Giardino dei Melograni), the Gam Gam restaurant, and the Museo Ebraico or Jewish Museum of Venice.

  • In the top satellite image below, you can see the Campo di Ghetto Nuovo, or New Ghetto, which is a more or less trapezoidal plaza in the sestiere of Cannaregio. From the campo, a neighboring street (which widens into a small square at one point) called the  Calle di Ghetto Vecchio, or Street of the Old Ghetto, leads down to the Cannaregio canal on the left side of the image. (The footbridge near the bottom of the picture is on the main pedestrian route between the Venezia Santa Lucia Railroad Station and the Piazza San Marco.)

  • The lower photo is a close-up of the Campo di Ghetto Nuovo. You can see one of the neighborhood's historic synagogues on the top floor of a building behind the "Ikona Gallery" caption. The Museo Ebraico, which offers guided tours of the synagogues, is on the same side of the square.

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