Venice's First Public Park

I Giardini Pubblici, Public Gardens, Venice
I Giardini Pubblici
The residents of eastern Castello enjoy two big advantages over their fellow Venetians: the relative absence of tourists and the Giardini Pubblici (Public Gardens).

The gardens date back to the first decade of the 19th century and the residents have none other than Napoleon Bonaparte to thank for their creation. 

In 1806 Venice was again under the control of the French and Napoleon was keen to modernise the city. His main architect and civic planner was the Venetian Gian Antonio Selva (1751-1819), a product of the neo-classical school. 

In order to create what would be the city's first public park (known for a short time as the Giardini Napoleonici), Selva had to destroy several ancient convents and churches, including Sant' Antonio Abate, San Nicolo and San Domenico. 
The Lando Arch, I Giardini Pubblici, Venice
The Lando Arch, I Giardini Pubblici
The monumental arch from the Lando Chapel, which was saved from Sant' Antonio Abate, is all that remains of any of the churches. The arch stands in solitary splendour at the head of a long avenue of trees.   
Statue of Gustavo Modena, I Giardini Pubblici, Venice
Statue of the actor Gustavo Modena (1803-61) by C. Lorenzetti
In the spirit of its time, the park boasts a dozen or so statues of (mostly) local heroes of a bygone age.
Statue of Francesco Querini, I Giardini Pubblici, Venice
Statue of the explorer Francesco Querini by A. Tamburlini
Statue of Riccardo Selvatico, I Giardini Pubblici, Venice
Statue of the poet Riccardo Selvatico by P. Canonica, 1903
There are also a number of rather weather-beaten statues of classical gods and goddesses frolicking in the foliage. My own favourite is that of Athena atop a lion. 

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