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The island of Murano in Venice

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The island of Murano in Venice
The island of Murano in Venice

Murano is one of the main islands of the lagoon and is famous for its blown glasstradition. For centuries, the life of this small island  was all around the furnaces in which are made glass objects sold worldwide. Murano is like a small Venice , made up of 9 small islands linked by bridges in the middle of the Grand Canal.

You can visit Murano  in a few hours, walking between low houses and colourful bridges on the canals, shops selling blown glass. Tourists can visit the Museo del Vetro, the Chiesa di San Donato and the furnaces to see up close the blown glass manufacturing.

How glassmakers arrived in Murano?

The extraordinary ability to create the glass is, in fact, a very difficult and dangerous  activity . This is why in 1295 theSerenissima di Venezia decided the transfer of all the furnace for glass blown manufacturing on the island of Murano. The buildings of the time were entirely of wood, and it’s easy to imagine the damage that fires could made to such  large buildings. But the idea of ​​transferring the glass blown manufacturing on the island was also  to control and prevent the diffusion of information concerning the main techniques. The glassmakers were forced to live on the island and could leave Venice only after special permission. The whole activity was under Venetian direct control. Despite the censorious control of the Republic many Masters managed to escape, bringing their art around the world. You can get there by boat in  40 minutes from Venice (Line 4.1 or 4.2).

Murano glass processing
Murano glass processing

The Museo del Vetro in Murano

The Museum del Vetro in Murano,  housed inside the ancient Palace of the Bishops of Torcello, was founded to overcome the biggest crisis in the industry that Venice has ever known. The start of production of Swarovski crystals, the fall of the Republic and the years of foreign domination stopped the market of the blown glass. After the crisis period, the mayor of Murano Antonio Colleoni and the Abbot Zanetti managed to create an archive with all the documents available on the island’s history. In a short time the archive  was transformed into a museum thanks to the large amount of donations from the furnaces owners that from the second half of the nineteenth century went back to work at the highest levels. Following the annexation of the island to Venice, which took place in 1923, the Museum became part of the Venetian Civic Museums and then was also added an archaeological section, whose finest examples come from the necropolis of Enona (Zara). The enrichment of the Museum continues also today, through the purchase of works and the donation by the Masters going to enlarge the contemporary collection. The visit to the museum allows you to admire the extraordinary glass masterpieces from 300 to 900 and learn more about how to make glass.

The Museo del Vetro in Murano
The Museo del Vetro in Murano

Timetables, tickets and other information to  visit to the Museo del Vetro di Murano
Where: On the Grand Canal of Murano
 
How to get there: by Steamers
From Piazzale Roma: Line Line 4.1 or 4.2, stop Museo di Murano
From Venice Saint Lucia Railway Station: Line Line 4.1 or 4.2, stop Museo di Murano
From Lido: Line 5.1 to FondamentaNuove stop, then change to Line 4.1, stop Museo di Murano
From Lido: Line 5.1, up to FondamentaNuove, change with line 12, stop Burano
Timetables
From April 1st  to October 31st , 10 am to 6 pm (ticket office 10 am to 5 pm)
From  November  1st to March 31st10 am to 5 pm (ticket office 10 am to 4 pm)
Closed on December 25th, January 1st
Cost of ticket:
Full price: 10 €.
It is part of the Circuito Museum Pass

The Murano churches

Murano had once  18 constructions : Churches, convents and monasteries before the advent of Napoleone Bonaparte on the island. After the Emperor’s passage it only remained three of them, the others were destroyed and looted, and today you can still see the remains. The first church to visit is the Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato. Originally dedicated to the Virgin, it took the name of St. Donato when, in 1125 were brought the mortal remains of the saint, after the conquest of the island. Very important is the mosaic floor, with the same story as the one of the Basilica di San Marco.

The church of San Donato
The church of San Donato

 

The second church to visit is Santa Maria degliAngeli, on the Grand Canal, built after  the donation of Ginevra Gradenigo, of a piece of land to the abbess Boncio to build a church dedicated to Our Lady. The church  was abandoned for a long period, after which a part of it was used as a hospital for the poorest families.

The Third Church is dedicated to St. Pietro Martire. Destroyed by a fire,  it was completely rebuilt in 1551 and dedicated to the Apostle founder of the Church of Rome. Here are preserved many of the works stolen from other churches to protect them from the looting made by Napoleon.

The glass lamps with the famous “almonds” are among the most important objects of the Church, as well as the paintings “The Doge Barbarigo presented to the Virgin and Cherub” and ‘ “Assumption of the Virgin and Saints”. Don’t miss the monument  dedicated to the Grand Chancellor of the Republic of Venice Giovan Battista Ballarin.

The Murano lighthouse

Despite its internal position, the beautiful building with marble from Istria, thanks to a sumptuous game of mirrors, is able to project its light in the center of the Bocca di Porto del Lido and it is an important aid for boats  during the night. Since the Middle Ages the lighthouse had the task of illuminating the lagoon, always using a game of mirrors to enhance its light that was  generated by fires lit on top of the lighthouse, which was not in marble, but made by wood.

The Murano lighthouse
The Murano lighthouse