San Lazzaro degli Armeni
A very small area (only 7,000 square meters) right in front of the Lido, in the lagoon of Venice, virtually completely occupied by a monastery.
We are talking about San Lazzaro degli Armeni, a real jewel among the islands of the Venice lagoon, inhabited by 22 monks today. The island is considered one of the world’s most important centres for Armenian culture, home of the order of Mekhitarists. Before being inhabited by Armenian monks in a stable manner since the eighteenth century, San Lazzaro, thanks to its isolated and protected position, was home to the Benedictines of Sant’Ilario, before becoming a leper colony (hence San Lazzaro, patron of lepers), housing for the poor and salvation for Dominicans expelled from Crete.
Finally, in 1717, the Republic of Venice granted it to a group of Armenian monks fleeing from Modone, in the Peloponnese, who have been living there since then.
Among these monks was Mechitar (now buried on the island inside the church), one of the architects of the rebirth of Armenian literature, as well as the proponent of the development of the community of San Lazzaro and its transformation into an important cultural and scientific centre.
It was thanks to him, in fact, that the monastery was restored and the surrounding land was restored, so that the monks could begin to educate their disciples and pass on Armenian culture from generation to generation. In the following decades a printing house independent of those of Venice was also built, as well as a library.
San Lazzaro was such an important centre that even during the Napoleonic invasion it was spared, because it was considered an academy of sciences and therefore protected by the emperor.
Of particular interest are the art gallery, the museum and the library, where there are volumes, manuscripts and artefacts from all over the world. Inside the library there are 170,000 volumes, including 4,500 manuscripts. In the art gallery and museum are some unique archaeological finds, including Armenian paintings and artefacts, a Canova plaster depicting the son of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Egyptian mummy of Nemen Khet Amen, from 800 BC, complete with its sarcophagus. On the ceiling you can admire a splendid painting of Tiepolo depicting an allegory of Justice.
The monks, moreover, take care of several rose gardens on the island, and they use the rose petals to produce a jam, known as vartanush, prepared with a typical Armenian recipe.
To visit San Lazzaro degli Armeni:
The island is reached by line 20 from Venice, which also stops at San Servolo.
Individual visitors can enter the monastery and library without reservation, with guided tours every day at 15:25 (departure from San Zaccaria with ACTV line 20 at 15:10).
For groups, it is possible to have visits at other times, by reservation only, and leaving a donation, during the following shifts:
Shift 1 from 9:45 to 11:45;
Shift 2 from 13:45 to 15:45;
Shift 3 from 15:45 to 17:15.
For any further information you can contact the Monastery on 041 526 0104 or by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org