Il Fondaco dei Tedeschi

First constructed in 1228, the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, one of Venice’s largest buildings, was a trading post for German merchants before becoming a customs house under Napoleon in 1806. Depicted by Canaletto and other masters, and photographed numberless times as the impressive but anonymous backdrop for the Rialto, the Fondaco now stands as a muted icon of the Venetian mercantile era. Twice destroyed by fire and rebuilt (in its current form in 1506), and then subject to a series of radical architectural interventions in the 20th century to accommodate new uses (towers removed, courtyard covered with glass, windows added, structure rebuilt again...), the Fondaco has constantly reshaped itself, accumulating many layers of 'authenticity': its preservation is a history of change.