Ca’ Vendramin Calergi is an imposing palace on the Grand Canal, in Venice, where the composer Richard Wagner died in 1883. Also, from 1950, Palazzo Vendramin Calergi hosts the oldest casino in the world, Casino di Venezia, established in 1638.
The palace was commissioned in the late 15th century by the Loredan family to the famous architect Mauro Codussi. The building was his last work, brought to completion in 1509, five years after his death.
In 1581, the palace was sold to the Duke of Brunswick and, after some legal troubles, in 1589, it was bought by a rich nobleman, Vettor Calergi, for his wedding with Isabetta Gritti.
Vettor Calergi had only one daughter, Marina, who was married, in 1608, to Vincenzo Grimani. The palace passed, by inheritance, to the sons of Marina with the obligation to take also the surname Calergi.
The three sons of Marina remained famous for their ferocity – after the cruel murder of Francesco Querini Stampalia, they were banned from the Republic and deprived of the property, but after a donation to the Senate for war expenses, they were reinstated in assets and titles.
In 1739, for dynastic reasons, the palace passed to the great grandson of Marina, Niccolò Vendramin, who immediately enriched the palace with two statues of Antonio Rizzo, Adam and Eve. The palace remained in the possesion of Vendramin family until 1844, when it was sold to Princess Caroline of Bourbon, who had her wonderful collection of art transported to the residence.
In serious financial difficulties, she asked the help of her son, Henry, Count of Chambord, who covered his mother’s debts and assigned the palace to the Lucchesi Palli family.
In the thirties, the building was bought by a wealthy Venetian financier, Giuseppe Volpi, but he kept it for a short period, since in 1946 he sold it to the City of Venice, and the casino was relocated in the palace.
In the mezzanine of the left wing, the composer Richard Wagner died in 1883. In 1995, the place was turned into a museum and opened to the public.
Ca’ Vendramin Calergi is the first modern building on the Grand Canal. The windows are large, made up of two round arched windows connected by a larger arch, with a round eye in the middle, delimited by slender Corinthian columns.
The ground floor is punctuated by pilasters that flank the two large windows and the beautiful water portal, and just below the mezzanine windows is the inscription Non nobis, Domine, non nobis (Not to us, Lord, not to us), extracted from a biblical psalm and commissioned by Andrea Loredan himself as an act of humility towards God.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest vaporetto station is San Marcuola, about 100 meters from the casino, that can be reached with the waterbuses of Lines 1 and 2 ACTV.