Biblioteca Marciana

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Biblioteca Marciana

There's a wondrous collection of centuries-old books and illuminated manuscripts at this library, located across the piazzetta from Palazzo Ducale in two buildings designed by Renaissance architect Sansovino, Libreria Sansoviniana and the adjacent Zecca (mint). The complex was begun in 1537, and the Zecca was finished in 1545. Facing the Bacino, the Zecca forms, along with the Palazzo Ducale, across the piazzetta, Venice's front door. It differs from its earlier Gothic pendent not only in style, but also in effect. The Palazzo Ducale, built during a period of Venetian ascendance and self-confident power, is light and decidedly unmenacing. The Zecca, built in a time when the Republic had received some serious defeats and was economically strapped, is purposefully heavy and stresses a fictitious connection with the classical world. The library is, again, much more graceful and was finished according to his design only after Sansovino's death. Palladio was so impressed by the Biblioteca that he called it "beyond envy." The books can only be viewed by written request and are primarily the domain of scholars. But the Gilded Hall in the Sansoviniana is worth visiting for the works of Veronese, Tintoretto, and Titian that decorate its walls. You reach the Gilded Hall, which often hosts special exhibits relating to Venetian history, through Museo Correr.

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