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Scuola Grande della Misericordia in Venice Italy

The Scuola Grande della Misericordia in Canaregio, Venice: information to arrive, hours, costs of tickets, history, architecture and works kept inside.

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Scuola Grande della Misericordia in Venice Italy Scuola Grande della Misericordia - Canaregio 3599 - Venice

The Scuola Grande della Misericordia is located at the end of the homonym Fondamenta in the Sestiere of Canaregio, a few steps from Strada Nova. The building, after a long closure, saw the opening on April 23rd 2016 when the Scuola was finally reopened to the public as an exhibition venue.


The building has a rectangular plan and considerable dimensions in height according to the canons of the Roman and classical basilicas - that the Sansovino imported into the city upon his arrival - and a facade on three levels of brick without the final stone covering. The first level dialogues as usual with the superior one, united by a tripartition of the spaces through gothic niches with a semicircular plan with round arches. Above each there is a quadrangle one of lower height and depth. The 12 niches were supposed to house statues representing the iconographic program of the Scuola. An identical pattern of niches and openings is repeated along the long side that overlooks the adjacent canal.

The entrance, framed by white Istrian marble, rests on three steps and is simple with architrave and round arch and dialogues for dimensions with false side doors, which open up above into small round-arched windows. The scheme of the three round openings, but of equal size, is repeated in the upper level on which the triangular tympanum rests with an eye still blind in the center.

The interior has a large hall on the ground floor divided into three naves by two series of 12 high Corinthian columns resting on high stone pedestals and placed in pairs on the floor; this has a stone covering while the ceiling is made of wood with dense visible truss. The side walls repeat the columnar pattern of the naves using semi-columns with niches in Istrian stone.

From the left aisle you enter the upper floor through a monumental staircase with a round arch that leads to the Sala dei Confratelli, well lit by the 12 round-arched windows; the room has dimensions of 49.15 meters in length, 20.95 meters in width and 12.50 meters in height, second only to the Sala del Maggior Consiglio of Palazzo Ducale.

Among the large windows there is the fresco decoration painted in chiaroscuro by Veronese's workshop, which dialogues with the sculptures housed in the center representing the 12 major prophets.


The first seat of the Scuola was begun to build in Gothic style in 1308 in the nearby and still original Campo dell'Abbazia, but soon among the confreres entered very prominent personalities of the Venetian society, people who gave prestige to the School; and soon it was decided to have a building that could reflect the position and importance of the Brotherhood in the city.

First the project was signed in 1507 by Alessandro Leopardi who began its construction, then continued by Tullio Lombardo and finally by the famous Florentine architect Jacopo Sansovino (1486-1570) who, fleeing from the Sacco di Roma (6 May 1527), stopped in Venice before repairing in France but, retained by the Doge Andrea Gritti, he remained here until his death helping to forge the Renaissance appearance of Piazza San Marco. His are the buildings of the Mint, of the Marciana Library, the Loggetta at the base of the bell tower, the Scala D'Oro at the Palazzo Ducale with important interventions in the Procuratie both Old and New.

The Scuola Grande della Misericordia therefore, in the ordinary design of the Sansovino, would have to obscure with its beauty and grandeur any other building in Venice. The very dimensions of the School stand out against the tiny Venetian civil construction and show us the true and real intentions of grandeur: the room for the meetings of the confreres on the first floor (21 x 49 meters) is second only to the Sala del Maggior Consiglio a Palazzo Ducale.

At the time of construction, in the second half of the 16th century, there was an intense building activity in Venice, and in particular regarding the construction of the new Schools premises: the will, therefore, to excel also derived from a continuous confrontation with the other confraternities, urging the devotees of Mercy to entrust themselves to the young Sansovino, Florentine sculptor and architect, who had just arrived in Venice, fleeing from the atrocities of which Rome was in the wild.

The Sansovino project was not only distinguished by the unusual volume but above all by the uniqueness of the solution provided for the covering of the main floor: he, in fact, proposed a vaulted roof in stone (probably elliptical lowered), very far from the architectural tradition lagoon. A daring, unique, exceptional solution for a marvelous "factory". In the plan we can see the influence of the Roman religious architecture - and therefore classical - brought by Sansovino, who became proto (maximum architect of Venice) in 1529, began work in 1532 maintaining the internal structural system of the typical spaces of the Venice schools.

The Sansovino disappeared in 1570 to an unfinished project, the doge Nicol� da Ponte decided to inaugurate the building in 1583, which soon housed important works by Veronese, Zanchi, Lazzarini, Pellegrini and Domenico Tintoretto. In the following century the walls of the first floor room were frescoed by the Paolo Veronese School and the monumental arch of the entrance door was built in the upper room.

Unfortunately, the various war vicissitudes in which Venice was involved, the famines, the plagues, the continuous changes in the program due to the lack of a lasting commission to which to refer, meant that only the structural system was realized of the Sansovino project. Even today, the expected covering of the fa�ades is absent, which, in the overall view of the author, were a habit of time covered with stone materials: a distance comparison but constant with the School of San Rocco where the Scarpagnino carried out with magnificence the prospect on the field.

It seemed that the unfortunate story that accompanied the construction of the School of Mercy, would have been prolonged forever: almost two centuries only to complete it, and then be destined, with subsequent Austrian and French occupations, to the most varied functions, without ever some could do justice to the artistic and monumental importance that the building required. Last but not least, the "sporting use" that was made of it in the twentieth century, using it as a sports hall (1914).

Finally, this prolonged offense to art and primarily to the city is now over: a careful, careful and patient examination of the architect Giovanni Battista Fabbri, who has worked for years on the recovery project, has brought the building to a suitable destination to their own spaces. On the ground floor, in fact, CIAM (Center for information and listening to music) has found its place while the upper floor has been used as an auditorium for symphonic and chamber music (and other cultural events).

Today, through the Project Financing and the collaboration between the City of Venice and the company SMV (Company of the Umana Spa Group), the Scuola Grande della Misericordia is back to open its doors to the public on 23rd April 2016 hosting events and exhibitions of various kinds.

How to get to Scuola Grande della Misericordia

The Scuola Grande della Misericordia is located in Cannaregio along the Fondamenta della Misericordia in Campo San Salvadro next to the church of the same name. The nearest vaporetto stop is Madonna dell'Orto which can be reached with lines 4.1, 4.2 or 5.1, 5.2. We then walk towards Fondamenta Contarini, continuing towards Fondamenta dei Mori and finally reaching the Fondamenta della Misericordia. Turning left in a few meters you reach the Scuola Grande della Misericordia.

Hours: information not available. We invite you to consult the official website from time to time.
Tickets: information not available. We invite you to consult the official website from time to time.
Telephone: +39.337.1440557
E-mail: [email protected]
: Scuola Grande della Misericordia

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