Hidden treasures

Like all cities with a long history, there are a multitude of things to see, many of which are before our very eyes. But, we don’t stop and take them in because we’re distracted by other more famous or obvious sites.

Venice has places like this which are less known or visited than the traditional and renowned spots such as Piazza San Marco with its basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Rialto Bridge or the Gallerie dell’Accademia, just to mention some of the most famous tourist destinations.

One somewhat less known and tucked away place is St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church and the adjacent Museum of the Hellenic Institute for Byzantine Studies, which are just a short walk from San Marco,

I must confess I’ve only recently discovered these places, even though I knew they existed and have passed them a multitude of times. They were along I street I took often as my maternal grandmother and some relatives lived in their area. It was also the route I sometimes took back home from school.

Not long ago, I found myself walking by the front while taking a stroll without any particular destination in mind. I wondered to myself why I had never visited this church and museum as I had many other of the city’s sites.

I must confess that one of the countries that I love most, other than my own, is Greece, I know it quite well having visited there a number of times on various trips.

Having come across this Greek orthodox church by pure accident during opening hours, I found myself visiting the museum, which is rich in examples of iconic and church-related objects.

This place has an ancient history. For commercial reasons, Venice has, in fact, always been well-connected to Greece and others places. The city has had numerous Greek communities. In the second half of the 1400s, permission was given to set up a “School’ to support them and follow the orthodox rites. Here, the orthodox rites, which up until then were held in the Church of Saint Biagio, were allowed to be celebrated.

This, my first visit, provided a pleasant discovery of the building interiors and of an interesting exhibition on Byzantine icons and paintings of the Venetian Greek school from the period 1500 to 1800.

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