Fort S.Andrea - Vignole Island

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Fort S.Andrea

The Fort

You can get to S. Andrea on your own boat or with guided tours which are organized by:

Comitato Certosa e S.Andrea
Phone: 041 2413717, 3683206846
Timetable: Visits are made by appointment
Email: ;
How to get there: transfers to the Island by Comitato Certosa e S.Andrea leave from public transportation ACTV stops of San Pietro di Castello or Vignole.


Sant’Andrea’s Fort is a fortress built in the mid-sixteenth Century over the ruins of previous forts. It is part of the complex network of military defense of the Venetian Lagoon.
It was designed by the architect Michele Sanmicheli, who was given the assignment by the Venetian government to safeguard the most vulnerable access from the open sea.
The Fort is located in the Island of Sant’Andrea, which is at the very end of the Vignole Island. It is formed by a central part, built on the ruins of the previous fifteenth Century tower, and by an external bastion at the basis of which the artillery was positioned. The rectangular-shaped breaches in the bastion were almost at sea level, so that they could observe the horizon and hit as close as possible to the water line of the enemies’ vessels.

Inside the bastion there is a vaulted bunker covered by a terreplain used as an ammunition depot. At the time the Fort was built, artillery had already evolved, with a  reduction in calibers, longer rifle-ranges and the possibility to limit the trajectory, that is to shoot in a much straighter line with respect to the previous Century bombards.
In the centre of the bunker there is a corridor connecting the bastion with the internal courtyard. At the far end, towards the courtyard, there are two compartments for a winch’s linchpins, which was used to transport munitions. It seems that originally the bastion and the bunker were linked by a vault then removed.
The entry to the Fort is on the other side of the bastion and a canal, separating the dock from the courtyard, had the purpose of protecting the access to the rear part of the Fort. It must be said that if the building was extremely fortified on the external frontline, it was completely undefended on the posterior one. Evidently, there was strong reliance upon the power of the artilleries, which - being in a large number (40) and with various shoot points – did not allow any vessel to elude such stationing. The Fort was not thought of as a defensive structure against short-distance attacks, it was instead perfect for preventing any unwanted approach.

From a formal standpoint, the construction is interesting as a whole, but the most pleasant part from an architectural point of view is the façade, with the central portal and two lateral arches of equal size. On the anterior side of the tower there is a memorial stone of the battle of Lepanto, surmounted by a relief of San Marco’s lion. On the peak of the tower, a terrace whose flooring makes suppose of its function of water collection, then directed in a central opening. A standard bearer in Istrian stone stands out towards the sea.
Until recent times, the Fort was a military base and then underwent impressive restoration work, in response to its constant slumping. To avoid such a problem, a foundation was inserted and is visible in the water at a few meters from the perimeter. Despite the huge costs borne, the Fort is now reachable only with private boats and plenty of underbrush has infested the area.
The Fort, more than a true defensive structure, constituted a form of dissuasion to show to visitors and ambassadors. After the period when the Venetians feared an attack from the sea, the fortress hosted merely representative garrisons.
Only once the Fort opened fire against an enemy’s ship, in 1979, just before the fall of the Republic, when a powerful salvo mowed the French vessel Le Libérateur d’Italie, which was trying to force the Lido port, causing the captain’s death and the ship’s surrender.

An interesting description of the complex and of what happened inside was written in his memoires by the Venetian adventurer Giacomo Casanova, who was there detained from March to July 1743. The Fort was not used as a prison, but could be a destination for troublesome people who the Republic intended to put through security measures rather than an out-and-out imprisonment.

Taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Translated by Caberlotto Marco

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