Shopping in Venice? The Fondaco dei Tedeschi is one of the best Venice attractions for combining history, designer shopping, incredible architecture and more. It’s also one of the best free things to do in Venice. Situated right in the heart of Venice, Italy, by the Rialto Bridge, the Fondaco dei Tedeschi should be on your list of the best things to do in Venice. Read on for the full story!
Shopping in Venice: Fondaco dei Tedeschi
Situated directly on the Grand Canal by the Rialto Bridge, the Fondaco dei Tedeschi is a warehouse dating back to Renaissance times which was both the residence and trading quarrters of German merchants in the city of Venice.
Constructed in 1228, the first building was destroyed in a fire and subsequently rebuilt between 1505 and 1508. The building that stands today is a typical Italian Renaissance structure with four storeys around an enclosed courtyard which was previously open to the elements.
The ground floor, which has water access on two sides, was used for embarking goods and for storage, while the merchants that lived here – mostly Germans from the towns of Nuremberg, Judenburg and Augsburg – traded and lived on the upper floors in around 160 apartments.
For the Venice authorities, obliging all German merchants to live together – as they did with the Turkish merchants at the Fondaco dei Turchi – was a way of keeping order and making sure that duties and taxes were paid on the goods brought it. German merchants brought cloth, wool and gold to the markets of Venice, and left with food, oil and glass from the island of Murano.
Fondaco dei Tedeschi: a new life
The Fondaco dei Tedeschi passed through various hands – and various states of repair – before being converted into a post office in the 20th century, as the Venetian headquarters of Poste Italiane.
In 2008, In 2008, the building was sold to the Benetton Group who appointed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas to plan a new shopping centre to be incorporated into the Renaissance building. The resulting property relaunched as the present day Fondaco dei Tedeschi in 2016, and is occupied by global luxury shopping conglomerate DFS, which originates in Hong Kong. DFS is the name behind the T Galleria chain and is a leader in duty free shopping.
Shopping in Venice: visiting the Fondaco dei Tedeschi
As the Fondaco dei Tedeschi is a commercial space today, it is free to enter. However, due to its historic nature and unique story, it is possible to book a guided tour of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, to learn about its intricate carvings and the period industrial and warehouse tools which still form the structure. Its ground level area is today an open-plan retail space, where pop up artistic collaborations take place, and local artisans have the chance to display their wares.
The upper floors of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi include a host of upscale brands for men and women. From Armani to Vacheron Constantin, Tory Burch to Bottega Veneta, shoppers can browse for men and womens wear, watches, handbags, shoes, jewellery and more. If you love makeup and perfume, don’t miss the beauty floor, where delicate silver swirls on the ceiling reflect water-like ripples, and the expert staff are on hand to guide you through your purchases. I sat down for a colour consultation and a makeover, happily going away a new set of make-up after seeing a notable difference.
The Fondaco dei Tedeschi is like no other destination for shopping in Venice. Its majestic interiors allow in plenty of natural light making this a relaxing shopping experience, while the mix of brands is second to none!
Rooftop views from the Fondaco dei Tedeschi
Although you don’t need to plan a regular visit to the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, you do need to book on line if you want access to the Fondaco dei Tedeschi roof terrace with incredible views over Venice. This rooftop is one of the top attractions in Venice, and is a free thing to do in Venice, but you do need to reserve a time slot online to avoid being disappointed on the day. The rooftop visit to the Fondaco dei Tedeschi Terrazza Panoramica is totally worth it however, so add it to your list of top things to do in Venice!
Fondaco dei Tedeschi | Calle del Fontego dei Tedeschi, 30100 | Venezia