If you’re planning a trip to Venice this year, be sure to pay a visit to the newly reopened Royal Gardens of San Marco, which have been closed to the public for the past five years while undergoing extensive restoration.
Situated behind St Mark’s Square, the gardens were originally commissioned by Napoleon to complement his new Royal Palace (now home to the Correr Museum) – on a site that once housed a series of 14th century granaries that stored the Venetian Republic’s wheat and grain supplies. Completely surrounded by water, the gardens were connected to the Palace by a drawbridge that allowed gondolas to pass underneath it, and laid out in an elegant style with formal geometric Italianate parterres, “English-style” wooded groves, and a tree-lined avenue along the Bacino San Marco. The gardens were opened to the public in 1920, but over the course of the Twentieth Century they gradually fell into a state of serious disrepair – and by 2010 the once-beautiful pergola was in ruins, the drawbridge was unusable, the main gates rusted and crumbling, with an unsightly WW2 concrete bunker occupying the central area surrounded by dilapidated service buildings.
Over the past few years the gates to the gardens have remained firmly closed while the site underwent a major revival project thanks to Venice Gardens Foundation and Generali Group – an initiative which, during the inauguration on 17th December 2019, Italy’s Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini described as “a beautiful story of love and generosity”. Innumerable shrubs, bulbs and trees have been planted, a pair of beehives installed, and the pergolas and conservatories have been painstakingly repaired. The drawbridge has been brought back to working order, and Napoleon’s NeoclassicalCafehaus is once again a stylish coffeehouse and eatery, now managed by illycaffè. Today, the gardens are once again open and accessible for all to enjoy – serving as a haven of tranquility and an optimistic symbol of regeneration in the heart of the lagoon city.
For opening hours and more visitor information please visit the link here.