Hidden treasures

The Red Bench in the Ghetto of Venice

Unknown places & works

The Red Bench in the Ghetto of Venice

Always in the collective imagination, thanks to a famous play by William Shakespeare's ‘The Merchant of Venice', the Jews are seen as moneylenders full of money and greedy. In reality, not everyone knows that from the Middle Ages they were forced to be moneylenders, due to the laws that were imposed in the countries in which they resided and because the Church considered it a sin to lend money at interest.


In Venice, where the first Ghetto in the world was created, there were three banks where it was possible to bind an object in exchange for a cash loan. Jewish money lenders are documented in Venice during the fourteenth century, but their regulation occurred in the course of the fifteenth century when the Ghetto was established. In fact, it was also the state that initiated the activity of these banks in order to have fewer poor to support.

These three banks, the red, green and black, survived until the end of the Republic (1797), and thereafter their memory was lost. Fortunately, today you can again visit one of these banks, the Red Bank, which has recently been restored and is now open to visitors. Its name is derived from the red receipt that customers received when they pawned an item, and which leads one to consider if the term banking "in the red", derives precisely from this old Venetian pawnbroker.

If you want to learn more and visit this ancient place go to www.bancorosso.org.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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