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Libreria Sansoviana

Libreria Sansoviana (13)

Situated in the Piazzeta, the small square that leads to the Piazza San Marco, this building, on whose façade features arches supported by Doric and Ionic columns, was designed by Jacopo Sansovino and was praised by Andrea Palladio for its great beauty.

The construction, situated opposite the Palazzo Ducale, houses the Biblioteca Marciana, which was created thanks to donations from the private collections of Francesco Petrarca and Cardinal Bessarione. Given the large quantity of volumes and manuscripts that the library had to store, to which the task had also been given of storing all the books published in the Venetian State, it was decided to commission Sansovino the construction of an official centre for the institution’s important archives.

The main part of the works were undertaken between 1537 and 1553, and the final result is one of the masterpieces by the Tuscan architect, although during the process the vault collapsed, something that meant that Sansovino had to pay for the reconstruction out of his own pocket. Later on, the decoration was completed and Vincenzo Scamozzi was entrusted to add 5 arcades.

 The building is, above all due to the large windows of the Ionic loggia of the first floor and the balustrade of the terrace, decorated with statues by Alessandro Vittoria that represent classical divinities, a perfect counterpoint for the Palazzo Ducale. 

The interior, entered through a doorway flanked by two caryatids, is undoubtedly notable for the fantastic decoration which, on being a place dedicated to storing wisdom, deals with this question allegorically, and on some of the frescos and canvases is represented the maximum splendour of Venetian Mannerism. 

The stairway is ornamented with stuccos by Alessandro Vittoria and frescos by Battista Franco and Battista del Moro. After passing through the vestibule, the ceiling of which features Titian’s La Sapienza, you reach the large library room, which is an authentic treat for the eyes, since it includes works produced by grand masters such as Tintoretto or Veronese.

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