Circus magnate John Ringling left a legacy to Sarasota with this Venetian-Gothic mansion, complete with sprawling bayside gardens and an impressive art collection.
Ca’ d’Zan Mansion is the exquisite Venetian Gothic-inspired winter residence of American circus magnate, developer and art collector, John Ringling, and his wife, Mable. The stately Ca’ d’Zan (Venetian for “House of John”) is a remarkable Mediterranean-style architectural beauty, built like a Venetian Grand Canal palace and adorned with colorful 16th-century tiles from Spain. The mansion was completed in 1926 at the height of the Ringling Bros. Circus’ success and then lovingly restored as a property of the state and opened to the public in 2002.
Step into the “Gilded Age” of decadence in this grand 56-room palazzo, set on the waterfront of Sarasota Bay. The extravagant five-floor building is embellished with colored glass, stucco and terra cotta details and features an 82-foot (25-meter) high viewing tower. Palm trees line one side of the house and a striking zigzag-patterned marble waterfront terrace frames the other.
Pay for a docent-led tour to explore the first two floors of the 36,000-square-foot (3,345-square-meter) mansion’s elaborate bedrooms, gaming rooms and parlors, once used by guests such as New York Mayor Jimmy Walker and Broadway producer Flo Zeigfeld. Have your tour personalized to your interests in art, architecture or history. See the Ringlings’ eccentric interior decoration, deep red-and-gold Louis XV-style furnishings and personal art collection.
Stop by the visitors’ center to find out which tour is most suited to you. Visit the Ringling Estate restaurant for a leisurely dining experience. A more low-key snack bar can be found next to the mansion and the Banyan Café is located in the center of the grounds. Bring a cooler and snacks and enjoy a beautiful bayside picnic in the gardens.
Ca’ d’Zan is open daily for self-guided or docent-guided tours. Admission to the Ringling is included in the entry price to the Museum of Art and also includes full-day access to the Circus Museum and Bayfront Gardens. Guided tours of the mansion incur an extra fee. A free trolley service operates between the Ringling Estate sites. The estate is located just a few minutes’ drive from the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. Free parking is available nearby.