Welcome to our new category „Venice from A to Z“. While waiting for the Architecture Biennale in Venice to start – and to inform you about many peculiarities of the lagoon city before you visit our Meeting Point – we would like to present to you our Venice ABC in the following weeks and months.
Venice is famous for its Scuole, the “homes” of not-for-profit confraternities (guilds) that existed to support schools, hospitals, orphanages, poorhouses, and the like. They were primarily founded by specific trades or professions. Often, they closely co-located with a church, and often funded specific chapels or other functional spaces within the adjoining church. The elite Scuole Grande best known today are Scuola Grande Archiconfraternita San Rocco (founded in 1485, located behind the Frari across from its own church, San Rocco) for its extraordinary riches of art, Scuola Grande di San Marco (at Zanipaolo – not at San Marco), now the entrance lobby for the City hospital, and Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelistica (in western Sestiere San Polo) with its beautifully enclosed courtyard and modern conference center.
…like San Marco
On 31st January 828 the relics of the evangelist and Patron of Venice Saint Mark were brought from Alexandria, not without adventure, to Venice where they were received by the Doge Giustiniano Particiaco. In those days relics were a powerful social and economic unifier, attracting pilgrims and merchants. So all relics were welcomed, and those of St. Mark particularly so in Venice since it was precisely this saint who had evangelised the people of the Veneto, becoming their patron saint and emblem in the form of a winged lion armed with a sword, and with a book in which the words Pax Tibi Marce Evangelista Meus (Peace to You Oh Mark My Evangelist) could be read in peacetime, but which was closed threateningly when the sword, rather than discriminating between good and evil, was stained with the blood of war.
…like sigh – Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs, known as the Ponte dei Sospiri in Italian, is one of the most famous bridges not just in Venice, but in the world. The bridge passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the Dogi’s Palace to the Prigioni, the prisons that were built across the canal in the late 16th century. Antonio Contino designed and built the Bridge of Sighs in 1600. Though highly ornamental, built of white limestone with lattice-like screens covering two small rectangular windows, the footbridge served a very practical purpose. It was used to lead prisoners from the examining rooms to their cells in the Prigioni. Legend has it that prisoners who crossed the bridge on the way to their prison cells or the execution chamber would sigh as they caught their last glimpses of Venice through the tiny windows. For the final film scenes in From Russia With Love, James Bond and Tania are traveling down a canal in Venice after disposing of Colonel Klebb in their hotel room. They are riding in a taxi boat on the canal Rio di Palazzo and pass under the Bridge of Sights. The Bridge of Sighs has become a symbol of love. It’s said that if a couple in a gondola kisses as they pass under the bridge at sunset as the bells of St. Mark’s toll, their love will last forever.
POINTS of contact offers a legendary Meeting Point for architects during the opening week of the Architecture Biennale (23.–28.5.2018). Read more