History of Glassmaking in Venice: Why Murano?

by Giulia Minero
Glassmaking

Glassmaking has a long history to tell. The majority of people, though, might not be aware of the history and origins of this distinctive craft. Discover them here!

Glassmaking in Venice: an ancient art

The art of making glass by solidifying silica to obtain a transparent material that is at once hard yet delicate, dates back to a distant past (the history of glassmaking can be traced back to 3500 B.C. in Mesopotamia). Several archaeological excavations testify to the fact that had already become an integral part of life in the Venetian lagoon in the 7th century B.C. Furthermore, in the year 1000 A.D., its production had become so important that it was protected by specific laws.

An ancient glass furnace

When Glassmakers Moved to Murano

A panoramic view of the islands of the Lagoon
A panoramic view of the islands of the Lagoon

There was one small setback to glassmaking: the furnaces used to create the molten glass were a constant fire hazard in the narrow streets of Venice. As a consequence, by law, all the glass workshops were moved to the island of Murano where they are still located today.

Eyeglasses, mirrors, and crystal: everything started here

It was here that eyeglasses were invented in the 13th century and here that, in 1369, mirrors began to be produced. It was also here that, in 1450, Angelo Barovier invented crystal. Glass was a rare commodity throughout the Renaissance: it was only in 1827 that production on an industrial level began. At that point, blown glass or glass produced by lampworking became a highly prized material used for artistic purposes, achieving its height of splendour during the Art Nouveau period.

Artistic Glass
Artistic Glass

Art and design: towards today's art of glassmaking

Giuliano Ballarin
Giuliano Ballarin

Artists including Lalique, Dammouse and Tiffany sought out the glassblowers of Murano to produce their famous works. As a result of this experience, during the mid-20th century, real masters of the art began to emerge in Murano including big-names of the likes of Signoretto, Ballarin, Zanetti and Vidal. Their works are highly coveted objects, true collectors’ items which are often displayed at museums.

Now you know why, if you love artistic glass, you should buy your piece of craftsmanship in Murano. You’re ready either to organize your Tour to Glass factories or to read our guide on how to buy the best Venetian glass in Murano.

INFORMATION

HOW TO REACH MURANO:

  • From Santa Lucia Railway Station or from Piazzale Roma: vaporetto line 4.2, departing every 20 minutes.
  • From San Marco Monumento: vaporetto 4.1, departing every 20 minutes.
  • From Fondamenta Nuove: vaporetto 4.1 or 4.2 departing every 10 minutes.

GPS: 45.45898, 12.35234

Find it on Google Maps

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