Castello is the largest of the city's sestieri and home to the ancient shipyard, the Arsenale plus the wonderfully relaxing Giardini park. It also boasts some perhaps lesser known but equally interesting and beautiful sights that provide a fresh perspective on this most serene city.
WHAT TO SEE
One of the only green spaces in Venice, the Castello’s Giardini with its views across to the Lido provides a wonderful escape from the crowds in nearby San Marco. For a few months every year the Giardini plays host to the art and architecture biennales, and part of the gardens are opened specially to house the national pavillions. This area provides a fascinating view of modern architecture, from the 1930s up to the 1980s, with buildings by Alvar Aalto, Gerrit Rietveld and Carlo Scarpa.
Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo
This Gothic basilica is one of the most important churches in Venice. Outside stands the famous equestrian statue of Colleoni by Verrocchio, and next door is the beautiful facade of the Scuola Grande di San Marco which is now part of Venice's hospital.
Statue of Colleoni by Verrocchio, source: Flickr/LenDog64
This is Venice's historic shipyard, and the origin of our word 'arsenal'. Most of the it is under Naval control and off-limits to the public, but some buildings are used for exhibitions during the biennales. Despite this, the Renaissance gate that is guarded by lions is definitely worth a visit.
Museo Storico Navale
Located on the waterfront along the Riva San Biagio, this museum may be one of Venice’s most visited sights, but it has a fascinating collection of historic boats and ship models. Don’t miss the ceremonial golden gondolas.
2148 Castello, Riva San Biasio; +39 041 520 0276, www.visitmuve.it
Chiesa di San Pietro di Castello
Dedicated to St. Peter the Apostle, the original church was built in the ninth century, and restored the 16th and 17th centuries. Don’t miss the beautiful cupola inside and look out for a large cross that combines Romanesque and Byzantine styles.
Chiesa di San Pietro di Castello Castello 70, 30122 Venice, Tel. +39 041 2750 462
This street one of the least touristy areas in Venice and allows visitors a glimpse of how local life really operates in Venice. The street is lined with shops, bars and cafés plus on weekday mornings there is a lively outdoor fish and fresh produce market.
Side street off Via Garibaldi, source: Flickr/Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble
Biblioteca San Francesco dell Vigna
With ancient works from the 16th century all the way through to the present day, this library boasts a wealth of religious resources in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish and Hebrew, as well as a large section on Venetian art and history.
Biblioteca San Francesco della Vigna Castello 2786, 30122 Venice, Tel. +39 041 5235 341
San Giovanni Battista in Bragora
Legend has it that St. Magnus built this church, as indicated by divine intervention, to restore faith in local communities distraught by invasions. Though the exact date of the church’s completion is not clear, it is likely that a chapel already existed on this site before 1090.
San Giovanni Battista in Bragora Castello 3790, 30122 Venice, Tel. +39 041 5205 906
WHERE TO EAT
Osteria Santa Marina
Ideal for lunch or dinner this rustic, yet elegant bistro-like trattoria-restaurant serves classical seafood recipes with a creative twist and includes dishes such as sea bass in mussel and clam broth, and turbot and mussel- filled ravioli. Located in a pretty square, it has a largely local clientele, which is a recommendation in itself. The outdoor tables are an extra bonus in the warm season.
Osteria Santa Marina: Campo Santa Marina 5911, 30122, Venice, Tel. +39 041 5285 239, www.osteriadisantamarina.com
Osteria Santa Marina
One of the the city's best pasticcerias where you can enjoy a coffee and excellent local specialities like zaleti (maize flour and sultana cakes) for considerably lower costs than many other places in Venice.
Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Castello 6779, Venice, +39 041 5227949, www.rosasalva.it
Rosa Salva, source: Flickr/Miquel Rodríguez