Hidden treasures

The model of Barbacano in San Polo district

Historical Curiosities
barbacane

The model of Barbacano in San Polo district

Every so often, walking along the streets of Venice, you will come across wooden structures that stick out of buildings: these are the so-called ‘Barbacani’.

They are wooden beams used to support the jutting structures of buildings in order to gain space – you could only enlarge the upper floors of houses - without taking up space in the narrow Venetian streets. In the military field, this term indicated a reinforcement structure in military constructions.

The etymology of the word Barbacano is uncertain: some believe it derives from the Arabic b-al-baqàra, which means 'door of cows', a term used to indicate a structure that protected the fence where the livestock were kept, next to the main walls.

In Calle della Madonna, near the Rialto bridge in the San Polo district, you can see an Istrian stone Barbican almost hidden between the facades of the houses, with an engraving on the wall: PER LA IURISDICIOM DE BARBACANI. This is the model that was used for the construction of the wooden ones: the dimensions of the Barbacani were in fact strictly established by the Venetian authorities to avoid misuse!

Venice keeps traces of its past in every corner of the historic center... Are you ready to discover these structures? Book a private guided tour with one of our expert local guides and set off with her for an exciting adventure!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Venice: What happened on May 16 in Venice

almanacco-venezia-rubrica
Almanac of Venice

According to the Venetian Liturgical Calendar, the Saint of the Day is St. Boldo (St. Ubald Bishop) a church was dedicated to the Sain...

View

Venice: What happened on May 1 in Venice

almanacco-venezia-rubrica
Almanac of Venice

According to the Venetian Liturgical Calendar, today’s Saints are Sts. Philip and James, Apostles and Saint Scholastica, of whom ther...

View

Venice: What happened on April 25 in Venice

almanacco-venezia-rubrica
Almanac of Venice

According to the Venetian Liturgical Calendar, the Saint of the Day is St. Mark, Evangelist, Patron Saint of Venice It is the First Fea...

View

Venice: What happened on April 20 in Venice

almanacco-venezia-rubrica
Almanac of Venice

According to the Venetian Liturgical Calendar, the Saint of the Day is St. Victor.   - April 20, 1797: capture of the French friga...

View

Top posts

Venice: 10 songs that will make you think of Venice

canzoni-ve
Did you know that...

Sometimes we hear the first few lines of a song and our minds are suddenly transported back to a place, a memory or a dream. We put tog...

View

Padua: Vò Euganeo: a place to be discovered

vò
Unknown places & works

In the last few months there has been much talking around the small town of Vò, in the province of Padua. It was at the center of ever...

View

Venice: 10 must-see movies filmed in Venice

10_film_venezia
Film Locations

Venice is unique amongst world cities and every year it turns into a dream-like experience for scores of tourists thanks to its timeles...

View

Chioggia: The Valley of the Seven Dead Men

casone-millecampi-detto-casone-dei-sette-morti
Mysteries & Legends

Halloween is just around the corner: have you already got into the fascinating terrifying aura of the scariest party of the year? No ye...

View