Ca' d'Oro (correctly Palazzo Santa Sofia) is a palace on the Grand Canal in Venice, northern Italy. One of the older palazzi, it has always been known as Ca' d'Oro (golden house) due to the gilt and polychrome external decorations which once adorned its walls.
The Palazzo was built between 1421 and 1440 for the Contarini family, who provided Venice with eight Doges between 1043 and 1676. Upon election, each new Doge would leave his own palazzo and take residence in the Doge's Palace.
There were a few architects and sculptors who contributed to the design of the palace. However, the most influential ones were Giovanni Bon and his son Bartolomeo Bon. The work of these two sculptors and architects epitomises the Gothic style in Venice. The principal façade of Ca' d'Oro facing onto the Grand Canal is built in the Bon's Venetian floral gothic style. Restoration of the building in the end of 19th century coordinated by Giovanni Battisa Meduna brought alterations in the facade and interiors. In 1894 the palace was purchased by Giorgio Franchetti, a Turinese barone, who aimed at restoring it to the 15th century glory. The building was to house only the private art collection of its new owner. In 1916 Franchetti came into agreement with the Italian authorities upon which he obliged to pass on the palace to the state after the completion of renovation in exchange for the governmental contribution in financing of the project.
In 1922 the palazzo was bequeathed to the State by its last private owner and it is now open to the public as Galleria Giorgio Franchetti (opened in 1927). However, the name of the palace itself originates from the fact that initially some elements of the facade were covered with gold. Those were the parts of a subtle polychromy, which even though didn't stand the test of time is still considered to be one of the greatest examples of the Venitian Gothic style. The assymetric facade consists of a portico and two-storey loggias above it on the left and a wall covered with black marble on the right. The building may seem not to be finished, but in fact it looks conforms adequately to the original architectural vision of it. The shape of the building is also a straight-forward reference to the looks of the Doge's Palace - both buildings have an inner court surrounded by three wings. On the Ca' d'Oro's ground floor a recessed colonnaded loggia gives access to the entrance hall directly from the canal.