The History

The history of the Royal Gardens dates to the decision to reconstruct the Marciana area in the early years of the nineteenth century. In 1806, following the decision by Napoleon and the young Viceroy Eugenio di Beauharnais to use the Procuratie Nuove building as the site of the Royal Palace, royal architect Antolini drew up the first plans, which were subsequently reworked by the architects Mezzani, Canonica and Soli.
The formal garden with its geometrically shaped flowerbeds was conceived as an extension of the palace and a drawbridge was built so that it would be possible to walk over the water of the Bacino di San Marco, and also make it possible to have a view of the Bacino from the Royal Palace. In 1808 the buildings of the old granaries, at the time being used as barracks, were demolished, as were the workshops in the same area. Starting in 1815, when the Austrians returned, the architect Lorenzo Santi completed the work, creating a tree-lined avenue along the Bacino di San Marco, with geometric parterres and two wooded groves at the garden’s ends. He added a Greenhouse on Ponte della Zecca and a neoclassical pavilion – the Cafehaus. The plants came from the Royal Park in Stra, and it was there that the citrus trees that adorned the Venetian garden in warm weather spent the months from November to May each year.
In 1857, Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian had the avenue along the bank separated from the gardens and opened this area to the public, while the rest of the garden was used exclusively by the court, and in 1872, to allow access from Piazzetta San Marco, a new bridge nearly touching the water, was built over Rio della Zecca. The bridge between the garden and the palace was replaced by an iron drawbridge in 1893, designed by civil engineer Filippo Lavezzari. In the late nineteenth century, the formal layout of the garden was replaced by the more sinuous design of the “English garden”, in fashion at the time, and an iron and cast iron pergola, one of the key elements of the garden’s architecture, was built.
On December 23, 1920 the Royal Gardens in their entirety were opened to the public and entrusted to the municipal government. A radical renovation, carried out between 1939 and 1940, in compliance with “Italian style”, restored the Gardens’ regular geometric layout.