photo tour
Churches and basilicas
night life
useful services
Lagoon's Islands
In Venice Today main page

Sail to other islands

Murano island
Retreat and refuge of those fleeing from the mainland looking for shelter from the Barbaric invasions, Murano, originally known as AMURANIUM, became prosperous, arriving at its splendour in the 16th Century. It has always been a self-governed centre, maintaining its own administration with respect to Venice and enjoying a local government administration, which uses ancient laws from 1272, under the jurisdiction of a Podestà: at the end of the fall of the Republic it had its own assembly; becoming the golden book of its original families, who took delight in special privileges (the Venetian police were not allowed to go ashore on the island), the minting of the oselle, that is the medallion/coin which were gifted to the most important citizens (the name derived from the fact that the Doges gifted birds to the most important citizens, which were then substituted by these medallions). The laws, including the working laws, were sanctioned from a mariegola (roll - register, list of people belonging to a determined class – of the artisan corporations) created to avoid revealing the secrets of the glass processing: in exchange for keeping the islands secrets, the islanders enjoyed special privileges. During its period of major prosperity, the island had 17 churches, convents, charitable institutions and academies.

The island was chosen as the main industrial seat of the l’arte del vetro dal 1291 (art of glass, 1291) because of two reasons: it is positioned downwind in respect to Venice, therefore the rivers housing the furnaces didn’t pollute the city’s air and secondly, to avoid danger of fire in the central inhabited area. The activity is ancient, but the true main impetus occurred when Venice came into contact with the Saracene workshops of Syria, between the 11th and 12th centuries.


  • Piazzetta della colonna (waterbus stop).
  • Fondamenta dei Vereri following the coast of the homonymous canal: originally witnessing the growth of the glass factories. Palazzo Contarini/Mazzolà of the 16th Century – Gothic houses positioned on the two edges of the shore.
  • Ponte Ballarin: from which the government bands were read, a lion can still be seen situated on one of the columns.
  • Across the Fondamenta Manin and to the right, there’s Viale Garibaldi (the target) with l’Ospizio (charitable institution) for the widows of glass workers, the F:M Piave theatre (famous author of operas: “I due Foscari”, “Rigoletto”, “Traviata,” all for Giuseppe Verdi) and the lighthouse.
  • To the left: Fondamenta di S. Giovanni Battista dei Battuti
  • To the left: Fondamenta Antonio Colleoni.
  • At the end: Campo S. Stefano, and a long established osteria (bar) “Taverna di S. Stefano”.
  • Ponte S. Pietro (bridge) and homonymous Chiesa (church) with its doorway and bell tower dating back to the beginning of 6th Century, the Vera da Pozzo of 1348
  • Coming back to the foundations of glass, at no. 139 there’s a small 8th Century Pharmacy, adorned with paintings of Fontebasso. (8th Century artist between rococo and neo classicism).
  • Ponte Vivarini, called “long bridge” from which you can see the Palazzo da Mula, to the left, being one of the largest factories of Murano, with Gothic memories and 6th Century restoration work.
  • After the bridge, on the right, Fondamenta Cavour and Fondamenta Giustiniani, with the homonymous Palazzo (Palace), today’s main branch of the Museo Vetrario.
  • Arrival in campo S. Donato housing the Basilica di S. ti Maria e Donato monument, built in the Venetian-Byzantine period of the 12th Century, not far behind S. Marco.
    Probably built in the 7th Century and dedicated to Saint Maria, adding the title of Saint Donato from 1125, after his relics were transported from Cefalonia. The date, 1140, visible in the mosaic flooring, indicates the church’s completion. It was restored between 1858 and 1873, and in more recent times, restored to its primitive form. The hexagonal L’abside (apse) with false arches joined by columns and overheard galleries, is one of the highest examples of the Veneto-Byzantine architecture. The Façade, with origins from Ravenna, is basilican in shape.

    The interior is laid out like a cathedral, with three naves divided by five columns with Corinthian/Byzantine shrines. The Ceiling is wooden like a “ship’s keel”. The flooring is a mosaic of marble polychromed glass pieces, depicting ornamental motifs and symbolic bestial figures: to the right between the 2nd and 3rd columns, two cocks support a Fox: symbolic of vigilance which wins over cunning. Dating back to 1140, it’s contemporary with that of S. Marks. In the middle circle, the Latin inscription reads “Anno Domini Millesimo Centesimo Quadragesimo. Primo. Mense Septembri. Indicione Quinta. In Nomine Domini Nostri Jesus Christi.
    In the main apse, the Byzantine arch basin is preserved, with only the Virgin, in the Orante form (standing with open arms and hands facing the sky).
    The CAMPANILE (Tower) is four-sided and has three sections.
  • Cross the S. Donato Bridge
  • Then go onto the Fondamenta Navagero, named after a historical, humanist literary man, whose gardens were full of exotic plants, one of the first botanical collections in Europe; a meeting place for Venetian nobles to read the classics.

    From here, you can get the boat for Venice.

All Rights Reserved
via Murri 31/7 Mestre - Venice
Hosted by IVT