Guidebook The Marciana Library and Fra Mauro's map of the world

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The Marciana Library and Fra Mauro's map of the world

This is among “the oldest libraries in Italy,” writes The Venice Insider. The Biblioteca Marciana, created in 1537, occupies Jacopo Sansovino’s iconic, white, arcaded building that sits opposite the Palazzo Ducale. Inside its ceiling and walls are lavishly decorated with paintings by Titian, Veronese, Schiavoni and Tintoretto among others. In the first reading room is a unique ancient World Map created by the monk Fra Mauro in 1450 that represents “the world before the discovery of America,” says Laura Teso at My Corner of Italy. A regular among top-ten lists of best libraries in the world, the Marciana is often missed by the 40,000 visitors who daily set foot in Venice, writes Julia Buckley in The Independent.    

Fra Mauro was a 15th-century version of Google Earth, says Atlas Obscura. “Famous for his cartographic skills, he had been commissioned by King Alfonso of Portugal to produce a map of the world.” It was the most accurate map ever made. “He was the first to depict Japan as an island, and the first European to show that you could sail all the way around Africa.” Through depicting the riches of the world and the fascinating people in distant lands, “Fra Mauro didn’t just describe terrain, but played a part in encouraging further exploration and analysis, leading up to the famous Age of Exploration.”    

The Marciana has one of the most important collections of Greek, Latin and Oriental manuscripts in the world, including “two manuscripts of the Iliad from the 5th and 6th century, the chronology Magna by Fra Paolino and the first book ever printed in Venice,” writes Venice Tourism. And here’s a video to help you understand its importance.    

Visiting the Library’s Monumental Rooms is an absolute “must,” enthuses Where Venice (opening hours: 10am-7pm). “Featuring an extraordinary Staircase of Honour, a Vestibule, which was later transformed into a Public Statuary, and an ornately decorated Library Room, it is of significant artistic and historical interest”. Access is through the entrance of the Correr Museum (St. Mark’s Square, Napoleonic Wing) using the single ticket for all the Museums in St. Mark’s Square, valid for the Doge’s Palace and the combined itinerary of the Museo Correr, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale and the Monumental Rooms of the Marciana National Library.

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