San Lazzaro represents a priceless treasure that is often overlooked with the many islands in the Venetian Lagoon. You most definitely have heard of Murano and its glass furnaces, Burano and its lace, or the first settlements of the lagoon in Torcello. But the little island of San Lazzaro represents the openness of the Venetian Republic- that in the 700’s – offered a group of fleeing Armenian Monks refuge. Since then, San Lazarro has been renamed the Lazaretto and is one of the most important Armenian temples today.
The entire island is encompassed by a monastery and is home to the congressional order of Mekharisti (founder Mechitar.) The beautiful internal cloister is a garden full of flowers and plants. The marvelous church is decorated with mosaics and paintings. On the other side, facing the lagoon is the extraordinary yet hidden rose garden that frames the island and is the main ingredient to a most delicious rose marmalade (you can purchase it at the bookshop for 7 euros a jar.) In another wing of the monastery is a small museum and library that you can always visit.
Over the years San Lazzaro of the Armenians has continued to follow it’s vocation of research and conservation. The island became almost immediately a cultural center for the sciences and was destined to preserve the language, literature, and traditions of the Armenian culture. The construction of a printing press and internal library sealed the islands purpose and added more than 170,000 volumes to their collection (4,500 manuscripts) and many other original artifacts of Armenian, Arabic, Indian, Egyptian and most famous Nehmeket mummy.
The island of San Lazarro is located in a beautiful area of the Venetian lagoon. It is situated behind the San Marco Basin and the island of San Giorgio close to the island of Lido. The fortified tower on the island has an amazing view of the island of San Servolo, Lido and a meridian view of Venice’s historical center. Sunset offers spectacular views with incredible colors of the lagoon.
Everyday- at 15:25- there is a guided tour (you don’t need to book and it costs 6 euros a person) To reach the island you will need to take the waterbus line 20 at San Zaccaria (make sure they stop at San Lazzaro.) Visiting the outside premises is possible during all hours of the day.