Part of the Venetian Lagoon, the island of Murano has been a bustling commercial port since as far back as the 7th century and by the 10th century it became a widely known trade port. In our time, it has become a prime tourist destination thanks to the beautiful architecture and proximity to the main islands of Venice but most importantly thans to the unique art and jewelry it produces.
Murano Island has built a worldwide recognition and reputation as a glassmaking center starting with the year 1291. At this point in history, the Venetian Republic has ordered the glassmakers to move their foundries and workshops to the island, fearing that a fire starting in them would soon spread and engulf the city's buildings which, at the time, were made mostly out of wood. To this day, the art of Murano is closely interwoven with Venetian Glass and with the aesthetic sensitivities of Venice.
The glassmakers of Murano quickly became the island's most respected and prominent citizens and by the 14th century they were enjoying several privileges including immunity from persecution by the Venetian state and the right to bear swords. The daughters of the most prolific glassmakers were often marries into the most affluent families of Venice. The cost of this status was that the glassmakers were not allowed to leave the Venetian Republic as it seeked to control and benefit exclusively from the pricy commodity which was Murano Glass. There were of course some rogue glassmakers which took the risk and established furnaces in other parts of Italy and Europe but for the most part, the master craftsmen remained on the island and through experience as well as innovation helped maintain Murano's status as the most important glassmaking center in the world.
The glassmakers from the island of Murano have maintained a centuries-long monopoly on luxury glass and have developed or refined many techniques, some of the most famous being the millefiori multicolored glass, crystalline glass, the smalto enameled glass, aventurine (glass with threads of gold), lattimo (milk colored, white glass) as well as beautiful glass immitations of precious gemstones. In our time, the artisans from the island of Murano still use these centuries-old techniques to craft everything from stunning and intricate chandeliers, glass jewelry, contemporary glass art and even smaller objects like glass figurines and wine stoppers.
The island of Murano now houses the Museo Vetrario or Glass Museum, one of the most important institutions dedicated to the history of glassmaking. Located within the Giustinian Palace, it displays glass samples from Ancient Egyptian times to present-day works.