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: The birth of glass between history and legends

vetro
Historical Curiosities

Glass is an item we use on a daily basis: we drink from a glass, we protect ourselves at home and in our cars thanks to glass windows, ...

View

Venice: The stone heart of St Mark’s Basilica

cuore-erizzo
Unknown places & works

If you are visiting St Mark’s Basilica and have just abandoned the wonderful vision of the Pala d'Oro (which is a must-see), just a f...

View

Venice: Map of Venice, what to know before you leave

mappa-venezia
Did you know that...

Did you know that Venice is not a single large island but rather a collection of 117 small islands linked together by over 400 bridges?...

View

Venice: What to see in the island of Burano

burano
Unknown places & works

The island of Burano is really a sight to behold and a great emotion for your heart: every year thousands of tourists venture into our ...

View

Top posts

Padua: Why do people say ‘Rimanere in braghe di tela?’

pietra-del-vituperio
Historical Curiosities

Have you ever wondered where the popular expression ‘Rimanere in mutande’ o ‘Rimanere in braghe di tela’ comes from? It is a wa...

View

Verona: The roman walls of Verona

porta-borsari
Historical Curiosities

Verona has always been considered a city of considerable importance from a military point of view: being at the mouth of the Adige Vall...

View

Venice: The Last Supper by Veronese at the Gallerie dell'Accademia

ultima-cena-veronese
Historical Curiosities

The twelve rooms of the Gallerie dell'Accademia host many works of art from the Veneto Region and the city of Venice made by renowned a...

View

Belluno: The mystery of the Pietrificatore from Sospirolo

pietrificatore
Mysteries & Legends

Nestled inside the Dolomiti National Park, in the province of Belluno lies the small village of Sospirolo. A peculiar man was born here...

View