Venetian Ghetto
  • Europe /
  • Italy /
  • Venice

A short itinerary focused on the history of Europe's oldest ghetto

The origin of the name
Heritage place of interest.

Before entering the Ghetto, let us stop to discover this word’s origin. 

There are four hypotheses regarding the etymology of the word “ghetto”. The word could root from “street” (with Germanic “Gasse”, Swedish “gata”, Gothic “gatwo”), from Italian “getto” (meaning “foundry”) or “borghetto” (small town) and finally from the Hebrew “gēt” (document attesting divorce). Of these four hypotheses, the one that would seem to be most closely matched is the second because the term “geto” in Venetian dialect, in fact, meant “casting of molten metal”. To strengthen the latter explanation, in medieval times, the area where the ghetto was later built housed the city’s public foundries. The change from “geto” to “ghetto” may have been due to German-speaking Jews, for whom “ge” is pronounced, “ghe.”

Now that we have better defined the etymology of the word, let us venture into the morphology and structure of this incredible and significant unique society.


1. The origin of the name

2. The architecture

3. The economy

4. Synagogues

5. Scola Grande Tedesca

6. Scola Canton

7. Scola Italiana