Venice’s largest district, Castello has some of the finest architecture and art in the city, the busiest as well as least touristy areas.
The Arsenale di Venezia, the city’s historic shipyard is one Castello’s main sights. Built in the 12th century, the Arsenale was the heart of Venetian naval industry and one of the largest production centres of its kind in the world. Today it is spread over 40 hectares and used mainly by the Italian army. It can be difficult to access outside of the Biennale of Venice events but you can admire its majestic Porta Magna entrance all year round.
|Arsenale di Venezia|
Castello has many beautiful and important churches that are worth a visit. The 13th century Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo dominates a charming square (campo), one of the largest in Venice, where you can sit observing the local life. Twenty five doges, many artists and senators have been buried in the Basilica between the 13th and 16th centuries. Beside it, stands the spectacular Scuola Grande di San Marco built by the Confraternity of San Marco in 1260, which today houses a civil hospital. Spend some time admiring the magnificent marble façade with elaborate statues and carvings.
|Scuola Grande di San Marco|
To see some of the most impressive works by Giovanni Bellini, Tintoretto, Tiepolo and many other Venetian masters, head to the church of San Zaccaria.
On a hot day, chill out in the Giardini Pubblici from which you can admire beautiful views of the Palazzo Ducale and St. Mark's Square. Walking through the garden towards the tip of the island you can see the national pavilions where exhibitions are hosted during Venice’s Biennale. It is one of the best spots to watch the sun go down colouring the city’s skyline in unforgettable pink hues.
The eastern residential part of Castello is quieter with an authentic Venetian feel. Via Garibaldi, the widest street in the city, is lined with small unpretentious shops, bars and lovely cafés that locals frequent. Here you can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, watch a football match in a bar while devouring traditional delicious cicchetti (Venetian tapas-style snacks) and ombre (small glasses of wine).
Photos via Flickr by: Giorgio Bertossi, Michael Day, Kevin Harber.