Armenia in Venice

The Church of Santa Croce is the Armenian place of worship in Venice. Today I located the church and took photos – now I need to find the key holder!!! I have to get inside this elusive, interesting and extraordinary place.

The Armenians were welcomed in Venice in the early 18th century – they were even given their own island – San Lazzaro. It’s a small island in the Venetian Lagoon half way between Sant’ Elena and Lido. Originally a leper colony, the island had fallen into a state of abandonment.

The Armenian monks set about clearing and tidying, renovating and re-roofing. They built a church and a refectory, a vegetable garden and an orchard. The village they created still exists. There’s a monastery and monastic community on San Lazzaro to this very day. That’s more than 200 years that the monastery and Armenian community have lived on the island.

The Armenian monks developed a printing press and published numerous volumes of Armenian texts – the oldest of which is 16th century. In fact their printing activities have contributed significantly to a huge library of more than 100,000 volumes housed (somewhat precariously) on a small island in the middle of a watery, tidal and somewhat precocious lagoon.

In the winter of 1816-17 Lord Byron, poet, writer, raconteur and socialite spent several months on the island as a guest of the monks. As soon as the party season started he was gone, like a rat up a drain. However he did learn Armenian and published an English- Armenian Grammar Handbook as a thank you to his hosts.

The full story can be found here on my blog:

Venice and the Armenian Island of San Lazzaro

To discover more about Armenian culture in Venice contact me for a private tour – it’s an incredible story just waiting to be revealed….

April 2024