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Discover Venetian elegance: Scala Contarini del Bovolo & Sala del Tintoretto

Scala Contarini del Bovolo aerial view Scala Contarini del Bovolo exterior view Scala Contarini del Bovolo view Sala del Tintoretto exhibition Sala del Tintoretto exhibition

The Scala Contarini del Bovolo, a spectacular spiral staircase, is an extension to the Gothic Palazzo Contarini. The building was commissioned by Pietro Contarini, the former lord of the palace, in the 15th century and is today one of the most famous buildings of the Renaissance. At the end of the staircase is a domed room that offers a marvellous view over Venice. Further highlights can be found on the 2nd floor of Palazzo Contarini, in the Sala del Tintoretto. There is an art exhibition that offers a unique insight into the life of the Venetian patricians.

A hidden gem among Venice’s many sights: Discover amazing Renaissance architecture with the Venice City Pass

The most impressive and valuable spiral staircase in Venice: the Scala Contarini del Bovolo

Hidden in a labyrinth of streets and canals stands an architectural jewel characterised by a style that is somewhere between Renaissance, Gothic and Venetian-Byzantine: the Scala Contarini del Bovolo.

The most impressive and valuable spiral staircase in Venice was commissioned by Pietro Contarini, probably towards the end of the 15th century, to decorate the façade of the neighbouring Palazzo di San Paternian.

A staircase as a decorative accessory

During its long existence, which spans five centuries of Venetian history, the palace now known as Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo has undergone numerous changes. 

In the late fifteenth century, the building was adapted to modern Renaissance taste with the construction of the loggia and the graceful spiral staircase known as the "bovolo" (Venetian word for "snail"). 

The result: a mix of different architectural styles in a single building

Traces of the older Gothic architecture can still be seen both outside and inside: On the side facing St Mark’s Square, parts of a lavish floral decoration can be seen, while the main façade overlooking the Rio di San Luca still retains its original late Gothic appearance.

The spiral staircase is built into a twenty-eight metre high cylindrical tower. It owes its striking appearance to the alternation of red cotto bricks and white Istrian stone, and eighty steps lead up to the various loggias and the viewpoint.

This concept is unusually elaborate for an external staircase and was a first of its kind. The staircase ends in a domed room that offers an outstanding view over the entire city. 

The loggia on the second floor of the Scala del Bovolo leads to the representative hall of the Palazzo Contarini (Sala del Tintoretto), where paintings, sculptures and objects are exhibited that provide a fascinating insight into the tastes of the Venetian patricians of the time. 



  • One of the most famous staircases in the world 
  • Breathtaking view over Venice 
  • Exhibition of famous works of art in the Sala del Tintoretto 


Opening hours

From 26 February 2024 until 20 October 2024:

daily 10:00 - 18:00 

Last admission 30 minutes before closing.
Closed: 1 January, 7 January, 15 August, 1 November, 25 and 26 December 



The ticket for the Scala Contarini del Bovolo and the Sala del Tintoretto is included in your Venice City Pass.


Important information

  • The palace is located in the San Marco district in the centre of a small side street. Landmarks are the famous St Mark’s Square and the Grand Canal.
  • Animals/Pets are not allowed in the historical sites, except for guide dogs for the blind and dogs for assistance to people with disabilities. Any other exception must be expressly authorized.
  • Bags, rucksacks, umbrellas and other items may not be taken into the historical sites, but must be left in the designated areas. The depot is free of charge and unguarded.
  • It is allowed to take low resolution photos and video, which do not involve any physical contact with the artworks, and for no profit purposes. It is forbidden to take photos and videos with flash. It is forbidden to use tripods, selfie-sticks and/or similar equipment.  



How to get there

The Palazzo Contarini is located in the San Marco district, near Campo Manin. Just a few steps away from the Rialto Bridge you will find this spiral staircase on one of the main streets leading to St Mark’s Square.



Calle Contarini del Bovolo, San Marco 4303, 30124 Venice, Italy 

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Your ticket for the Scala Contarini del Bovolo and the Sala del Tintoretto is included in your >> Venice City Pass.

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