Castello, Venice: what to see and do in the city’s least known district
The Castello area of Venice may not be the city’s best known district (sestiere), but it is the largest, and there’s plenty here to make it worth a visit. Even better, because it’s not so well known, it’s a place where you can enjoy a quieter side of Venice, away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist hotspots, like the Grand Canal. Here’s what you should see when you’re there.
1. Museo Storico Navale – the Naval History Museum
One of our favourite things to do in Castello, Venice is visit the Naval History Museum (Museo Storico Navale in Italian), which is the museum of the Italian Navy. You’ll find this fascinating museum near the Arsenale, along the Riva San Biago, and inside you’ll discover all sorts of interesting facts about Venice’s history on the water. You’ll see amazing model ships, old gondolas and plenty of other relics from the city’s past as a naval power.
2. Church of San Pietro di Castello
Venice’s official church until the construction of St Mark’s, the 16th century Church of San Pietro di Castello can be found on the island of San Pietro. This church is noted for its throne of St Peter, which you can see when you visit; look out for its Arabic motifs. You’ll also notice the church’s Renaissance bell tower, one of Venice’s most distinctive.
3. The Arsenale di Venezia
Venice was once a major naval power, and the Arsenale is an impressive reminder of that. At over 46 hectares, this collection of former shipyards and armories was once one of the world’s biggest pre-industrial centres of production. Though it’s used by the Italian army these days, you can still admire the mighty Porta Magna entrance and visit more of the Arsenale during the Biennale.
4. Castello’s Giardini
Think Venice is all canals and piazzas? Think again. In Castello, Venice proves that it too can do beautiful parks and gardens, and none more so than the Giardini. Famed as a setting for the Venice Biennale art exhibitions, the Giardini features 30 different pavilions, each representing a different country. Wander the gardens right to the tip of the island and look out for the resident stray cats along the way – a delightful thing to do if you’re bringing your family to Venice.
You don’t have to be on holiday in Venice to visit Castello. With our high-speed ferry crossing, you can do a day trip to Venice from Croatia and see this magical city as well as beautiful Croatia!