The Jewish Cemetery of the Venice Lido is one of the oldest in the world, a place full of history and one of the most interesting testaments to the Jewish presence in Venice.
After the Chioggia War (1378 – 1381), the Republic of Venice allowed the Jews to return to the city and liberalised their activities, in an attempt to rehabilitate the city’s financial resources drained by the conflict. In 1386 an isolated area was granted in the northern part of the Lido to be allocated to the cemetery, next to the community of the friars of the Benedictine Monastery of San Nicolò.
Precisely for this reason, there was a conflict over the area with the monks, who claimed ownership, but in 1389 it was definitively assigned to the Jews, reaching its maximum expansion in 1641. The cemetery’s long history was problematic from the outset. In fact, being close to the port mouth, it was often crossed by troops in times of war, which not only damaged the gravestones, but built their camps in the cemetery.
In 1715, the year of new constructions for the Fort of San Nicolò, it suffered further damage, until, in 1736, the Republic was forced to grant a new area, further inland and more sheltered, since then defined as the new cemetery and still used today. The older part was definitively abandoned to the erosion of the salty wind and the vegetation that gradually reclaimed its space. However, it became a mysterious place of great inspiration for Romantic poets such as Goethe and Lord Byron, who, in the nineteenth century, were fascinated by it during their visits to Venice.
After the fall of the Republic (1797), the old cemetery suffered further degradation, due both to the occupation of foreign troops and the incessant climatic insults, until, in the nineteenth century, with the tourist revival of the Lido of Venice, part of the area was expropriated.
In 1938, the year of the promulgation of racial laws, the cemetery was definitively abandoned. Only half of the square meters of the original area remain, with the gravestones and sarcophagi totally abandoned.
In 1999, significant restoration work finally began, made possible thanks to public and private funds, and more than a thousand tombstones dating from 1550 to the early eighteenth century were restored and catalogued, as well as numerous medieval tombstones. Thus, the Cemetery has recovered its ancient value and is worth a visit today.
For information and reservations:
Via Cipro, 70 – 30126 Lido di Venezia