The Fontego dei Tedeschi, a former trade hub transformed into a luxury department store
The “Fontego dei Tedeschi” is one of the few buildings which were provided by the Venetian Government, the Serenissima, to foreign merchants that worked in Venice.
As the political and economic power of Venice grew stronger, the number of foreign merchants working in Venice grew bigger in the centuries. As a consequence, the Republic of Venice decided to build special buildings to provide foreign merchants with storerooms and lodging, and at the same time controlling and taxing their trading activity.
First built in 1228, the Fontego dei Tedeschi was rebuilt in 1505 with a typical Italian Renaissance style, after its destruction in a fire. At the time of the Serenissima, this Fontego housed 160 apartments for German merchants on the upper floor and their dedicated warehouse on the ground floor.
After the fall of the Venetian Republic, the Fontego dei Tedeschi had been transformed into a customs house under Napoleon and into a post office under Mussolini, until 2008.
In 2012, the “Fontego dei Tedeschi” has been purchased by the Benetton family and rented to DFS, which has transformed the 6.800 square meters building into the only luxury department store in Venice, which opened in 2016.
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