The palazzo has lost much of its original substance. It was built from 1421 on the commission of Marino Contarini, son of a procurator. A predecessor building, the palazzo Zeno, which Contarini got as a dowry from his wife Sora Zeno, was pulled down. The Contarini family provided Venice with eight Doges between 1043 and 1676. The name Ca' d'Oro - house of gold - is derived from the initial gildings on some façade areas. Among the numerous subsequent proprietors were many well known aristocratic families like the Marcello and Loredan. After the fall of the Venetian Republic, the building suffered. Especially during the 19th the proprietors changed often, and each one altered the Ca' d'Oro after his fancy. In 1922 the palazzo was bequeathed to the State by its last owner Baron Giorgio Franchetti who had acquired it in 1894. Following extensive restoration, including the reconstruction of the courtyard stairway, it is now open to the public as a gallery. The principal façade of Ca' d'Oro facing onto the Grand Canal is built in the Bon's Venetian floral gothic style. On the Ca' d'Oro's ground floor a recessed colonnaded loggia that gives access to the entrance hall (portego de mezo) directly from the canal. Above this colonnade is the enclosed balcony of the principal salon on the piano nobile. The columns and arches of this balcony have capitals which in turn support a row of quatrefoil windows of great delicacy; above this balcony is another enclosed balcony or loggia of a similar yet even lighter design.
- Lorenzetti, Venice and Its Lagoon: Historical-Artistic Guide (Rome: Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato, 1961) as translated and with supplementary content by Taryn Marie Zarrillo, 2012/13