Libreria Vecchia (Old library)

Across from the Doge palace at St. Mark’s square is located the Libreria Vecchia or Old Library. It is one of the most important buildings of the architect Sansovino. The building was completed around 1540. The combination of new renaissance elements like the roofed walkways with arcs and columns with the traditional round arcs is a significant part of its architecture. It shows the development of a new Venetian Renaissance style.

The library stems from several foundations and gifts. Because of its extensive collection of original Greek manuscripts, it used to be a center of humanistic studies. A Venetian law from 1603 required one example of each book, that was printed in Venice, to be deposited in the library. This law effectively turned the library into a national library. Today, the library contains more than one million books, 13000 original manuscripts and more than 25000 prints from the 15th and 16th century.