Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana

Piazzetta San Marco, 7 - 30124 Venezia - Venice   see map - Contact
The Marciana Library is located in Piazza San Marco, between the Campanile and the Mint, and is the most important library in Venice, as well as one of the largest in Italy, built following the donation of the Greek cardinal Bessarione, who in 1468 donated to the His book collection is very Serene. The building, by Jacopo Sansovino, has rooms decorated by Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto and other great Renaissance artists and houses about a million volumes, manuscripts, incunabula and collections of maps and atlases, both historical and current.

Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana History

The Marciana Library owes its origin to the donation of Cardinal Bessarione of 1468 to the city of Venice. The collection included around 750 codes, to which 250 other manuscripts and printing works were added, thus giving birth to the design of a "public bookstore" in Venice, a work that Francesco Petrarca had already conceived a century before without the possibility of completing it. the project. Bessarion had placed the placement of books in a worthy place as a condition for the estate, but the Serenissima took a long time to fulfill this desire: the library was first placed in a building on the Riva degli Schiavoni, then in San Marco, (whence the title of the library), and finally in the Palazzo Ducale.
Only in 1537 was the construction of the Palazzo della Libreria started on a project by Jacopo Sansovino, located in Piazza San Marco. During the works the vault collapsed and, accused of being responsible for it, Sansovino was imprisoned; freed by the intercession of some influential friendships, he was obliged to rebuild the building at his own expense. The library moved here in 1553, however it was only in 1588 that the complex was completed by Vincenzo Scamozzi, who took over from the opera after the death of Sansovino in 1570.
The building is in two orders: Doric in the portico, Ionic in the upper floor. The portico has a middle portal flanked by two large caryatids. Inside, at the end of the staircase with two flights, there is a Vestibule with a splendid ceiling by Stefano and Cristoforo Rosa, from the mid-sixteenth century. The living room is sumptuously decorated and offers three works by Paolo Veronese on the ceiling: Il Canto, La Musica and L'Onore. Tiziano, Alessandro Vittoria, Battista Franco, Giuseppe Porta, Bartolomeo Ammannati and Tintoretto, already active in the decoration of the Vestibolo, with paintings now scattered in various collections, contributed to its decoration.
In 1603 a law came into force that imposed on every Venetian printer to deposit a copy of every book printed at the Marciana, which thus became the institutional library of the Serenissima Repubblica. After the fall of Venice, collections of religious bodies suppressed by Napoleon merged in part in the Marciana Library. In 1811 the library was transferred to the Doge's Palace, only to return to its historical site in 1924.
The Marciana, which depends on the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities, now has about one million volumes, including some 13,000 manuscripts, many of them rich in miniatures. The incunabula are 2.887, the cinquecentine 24.069. Among the most prestigious works of the Marciana fund are the two most famous codes of the Iliad, the Homerus Venetus A of the tenth century and the Homerus Venetus B of the eleventh century, a large collection of maps and atlases, the Chronologia Magna di Fra Paolino, a manuscript of Plinius from 1481 previously belonged to Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, and a copy of the first book printed in Venice, the Epistolae ad Familiares di Cicerone of 1481. The library also has a remarkable collection of maps and atlases, both historical that current. The world map of Fra Mauro dates back to 1459 and the map of the city of Venice seen as a bird's eye by Jacopo de 'Barbari in 1500.

Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana

Time period
  • 1400s
  • Italy, Venice
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Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana
  Piazzetta San Marco, 7 - 30124 Venezia
  +39 041 2407211

Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana
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