Murano island history of glass making art
Called “Amuranium” in ancient times, Murano island is famous worldwide for its glass production. Set up by refugees escaping barbarian incursions in the mainland, Murano flourished through the centuries reaching its prime in the XVI century. The Murano island has a similar geographical conformation to Venice. A main canal divides the city and meets other canals that split Murano into nine small islands.
Differently from any other island of the Republic of Venice, Murano enjoyed particular administrative autonomy. Its patricians, registered in a Golden Book, gathered in a local Great Council which was allowed to enact laws. Among the many privileges of Murano‘s noble class, the most notable was the option for a Venetian patrician to marry a master glassmaker’s daughter, without forfeiting his rights.
This underscored the importance of Murano glass production for the city of Venice. Through the centuries, Murano has also been a sought-after holiday location for many Venetian aristocratic families. They built their own small palaces here. Its gardens, “corners of Heaven”, were meeting places for many literary figures (like Aldo Manuzio and Pietro Bembo).
However, the fortune and wealth of Murano have always been intertwined with glass-making. Today it is still possible to wander its streets and watch the masters at work.
Landmarks in Murano island
If you want to know more about the art of glass making, Museo del vetro is for you. Set up in 1862, this museum exhibits glass products and techniques over the centuries. There are artworks from the Roman Empire to the latest creations of the twentieth century.
Another important cultural site in Murano island is the Basilica of Santi Maria e Donato. Other than the relice of Saint Donatus, the basilica also contains four rib bones. Tradition says that these bones are from a dragon that the Saint slew when in Greece.
The San Pietro Martire Church was set up in 1506 after a demolition by a fire in 1474. This Church houses the chapel of the Ballarin family, famous and notorous in the glassmaking production. It also contains frescoes by famous artists such as Tintoretto's Baptism of Jesus and Bellini's Virgin Enthroned.