Jewish Heritage Europe

Venice, Italy: Old Jewish Cemetery

The old Jewish cemetery in Venice was founded on the Lido in the 1380s — the oldest burial is believed to have taken place in 1389. It was partially demolished several times, and grave stones were uprooted when building encroached on its area. Extensive restoration work has taken place over the past 20 years (including drainage of marshy areas), and stones were re-erected. 

Today the old part of the cemetery is more like a sacred lapidary — burials exist throughout the area, but the stones are arranged without any correlation to the people buried where they now stand, as this was unknown. Also, a number of stones have been arranged around the cemetery walls.

The inscriptions on the stones are in Hebrew, Ladino and Italian, and many bear carvings of elaborate crests or family emblems. There are several representations of the human figure.

The old cemetery functioned until the 1770s, when a new cemetery was opened: its entrance is now around the corner, a few hundred meters away. This cemetery is still in use by today’s Jewish community — it includes grand family tombs and other monuments from earlier times.

Old Jewish Cemetery