The Scuola Grande di San Marco in Venice was one of the fraternities founded in the 13th century that used to profess Catholic charity. These lay organizations played an important role in both the political and religious and social life of the time. Today, when people talk about the Scuola di San Marco, they mean the building in which the order was housed.
Scuola Grande di San Marco Venice
Address and opening hours
The address of the Scuola Grande di San Marco is Rio dei Mendicanti, 6776 – 30122, Venice (tel. +39 0415298711). The building is now the main entrance to the Santi Giovanni and Paolo Hospital.
History and description
The Scuola di San Marco was founded in 1260. Originally it was housed in a Gothic building which, however, was destroyed by fire in the 15th century. The current version of the building is located in one of Venice‘s largest squares, the Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo.
The building was designed in 1488 by Pietro Lombardi, who was to receive help for the second half of the façade from his archrival Mauro Codussi.
Until 1808 the Scuola di San Marco was the headquarters of the fraternity, after which it was used as a military hospital by Napoleon, who banned all fraternities during his rule. As a result, not much remains of the original interior.
Like many buildings in Venice, the facade was designed in a predominantly Renaissance style and embellished by typical Byzantine details such as the arches and the various niches.
Centuries later, gold leaf decorations were discovered on parts of the façade. Only then it became clear how much money must have been spent on the construction of the Scuola di San Marco.
The façade is divided into two sections, with two entrances. The right-hand portal is decorated with reliefs depicting events in the life of Saint Mark, created by Tullio Lombardi, the son of the architect himself. Although Codussi was asked to design the upper part of the façade, the Lombardi‘s continued to contribute all kinds of ornaments, so that the balance between the lower and upper parts remained intact.
Between 2000 and 2004 the Scuola di San Marco was thoroughly restored. Today it serves as a hospital (Ospedale Civile).