Visit Marciana National Library

Free tours to Marciana National Library in Venice

Venezia Arte, has the pleasure of inviting you to visit its majestic Sale Monumentali (Monumental Rooms) while enjoying an enthusiastic talk given by our guides.

The Marciana National Library is one of the most beautiful Renaissance libraries in Italy, built to hold the fine collection of manuscripts which Cardinal Bessarione, the Patriarch of Constantinople and papal legate to Venice, donated to the Serenissima Republic in 1468.

It is also known as the Sansoviniana Library, after its architect Jacopo Sansovino. Work began on the building in 1537 and was completed by Vincenzo Scamozzi in 1560.

The staircase has a vaulted ceiling and cupola ledges, decorated with stuccoes and paintings depicting the soul’s upward progression towards eternity.

The entrance, conceived as a room for lessons in humanistic subjects, later housed the collection of ancient statues and reliefs donated by Giovanni Grimani to the Serenissima Republic in 1587.  In the centre of the vaulted ceiling is a canvas painted by Tiepolo representing Sapienza divina (Divine Wisdom, 1564 circa).

You then reach the splendid reading room where Cardinal Bessarione’s books could be consulted. The ceiling and walls are decorated with two splendid cycles by various Renaissance artists, including Veronese and Tintoretto. These canvases communicated to the viewer that the knowledge contained in the library, consisting of noteworthy collections of Greek, Latin and Eastern manuscripts which are still housed there today, could be put into practice for the public good.

Duration: 1 hour        

Tour in English upon request