When floating down Venice’s Grand Canal, the Ca' d'Oro—so named for the gold-leaf details that once adorned its Gothic-style exterior—is sure to catch your eye. This 15th-century Venetian masterpiece, also known as Palazzo Santa Sofia, is home to a lavish collection of art and furnishings, and offers gorgeous canal views.
The Ca' d'Oro (House of Gold or Golden House) was built by Venetian architects Giovanni Bon and Bartolomeo Bon for the Contarini family in 1430, and purchased centuries later by Baron Giorgio Franchetti, who bequeathed the palace and its contents to the Italian State in 1916. Palazzo Santa Sofia is now home to Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca' d'Oro and holds the baron’s impressive art collection—including paintings by Tiziano, Jan Van Eyck, and Van Dyck—along with furniture, medals, and tapestries. You can explore the interior and its collection, and savor the palazzo’s captivating canal views from its front loggia.
Palazzo Santa Sofia is one of Venice’s most famous palazzi, and the highlight of any boat tour or gondola ride along the Grand Canal. Many private tours of Venice include a stop at the Ca' d'Oro along with the Doge’s Palace, Rialto Bridge, and St. Mark’s Basilica; booking a tour that includes skip-the-line tickets is essential in the summer months.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Ca' d'Oro houses temporary exhibits that run during the year for an additional entrance fee.
- Most of the palazzo is accessible to wheelchair users, though there are a number of steps to access the loggias that overlook the Grand Canal.
- Large bags, backpacks, and umbrellas must be left in the cloakroom.
How to Get There
The Ca' d'Oro is located along the Grand Canal in Venice’s Cannaregio neighborhood. Take vaporetto line 1 from Piazza San Marco to the Ca' d'Oro stop.
When to Get There
Venice is one of the most popular destinations in Italy, and the city’s main sights can be crowded, especially in summer. Ca' d'Oro is particularly busy on the first Sunday of each month, when entry to the art museum is free.
The "Vandalism" of Ca' d'Oro
In the 19th century, ballet dancer Marie Taglioni briefly owned Palazzo Santa Sofia. She infamously destroyed a priceless Gothic stairway and balconies overlooking the inner courtyard in an act that many art historians consider nothing less than vandalism.