Mysterious building in Venice opens to visitors after 500 years

The old prosecutor’s office building was closed for half a thousand years. Now, after extensive restoration work by architect David Chipperfield, the facility has been opened to the public.

So far, only the ground floor of the building has been used, for which there are dining options – including the famous “Quadri” in operation since the 18th century and “Cafe Lavina”, which was especially loved by the composer Richard Wagner.

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The old Public Prosecution Building is located on the north side of St. Marker. It existed already in the 12th century, during the reign of Doge Sebastian Ziani. The apartments of the plaintiffs, who played the most important role in the city authorities, were transferred to the facility – from the Doge’s Palace. Approximately. In 1500, the reconstruction of the building in the Renaissance style began.

After the fire of 1512, Bartolomeo Bonne reconstructed, and Jacopo Sansovino completed the work in 1532. There were 50 porticos on the ground floor and second floor. On the ground floor, under the arcades, there are 3 lanes connecting St. Put a street sign at the back of the building.

For several centuries, the building was closed to residents and tourists. In fact, since the 16th century, no one has seen what the interior looks like – except, of course, for the cafes operating here.

The new Procuratorate building, erected in the 16th century, also belongs to the Procuratorate complex. The author of the project was Vincenzo Scamozzi. From the very beginning, it housed the offices of representatives of the subsequent authorities. Venice’s oldest café, Café Florian, has been operating on the premises since 1720.

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On April 8, 2022, after a 5-year renovation, the old Prosecutor’s Office was finally opened to visitors. The initiator was the Generali Insurance Company, the owner of the building. The company financed the entire project. Responsibility for the project rests with the office of British architect David Chipperfield, which has already completed projects such as the Tate Modern in London or the renovation of the New National Geographic in Berlin.

After the renovation, the Prokuracja Stara building was designed to meet the needs of Generali and the Human Safety Net Foundation, working for innovation, social change and sustainable development. Modernity entered the interiors of the historical building – a modern hall was created, where international seminars and conferences will be held. Staff will also be able to use a private space for group work, where foundation representatives, volunteers and program beneficiaries meet.

Since its inception, Prokuracja Stara has undergone many transformations. It is these changes that David Chipperfield takes a closer look at, tracing the sources of the various documents. The aim of the renovation was to display the distinctive architectural elements of several eras.

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The architects responsible for the renovation tried to preserve, inter alia, the elements of Renaissance architecture that the building acquired in the 16th century. This includes ceiling and floor coverings, decorations and frescoes. The historic interiors of the memorial’s three floors have also been restored.

The building’s facade, walls, floors and terraces were covered with traditional materials. Terracotta, scialbatura, pastellone, terrazzo, cocciopesto and marmorino are typical of Venetian construction. Some of them were still used in Roman times.

Although the needs of the organization’s staff were first put forward, the memorial is also available to visitors. The renovated spaces of the old prosecutor’s office will host exhibitions and other cultural events. There will be no shortage of pro-social initiatives.

Residents and tourists can also climb to the roof of the building, where there is an observation deck with stunning panoramic views of Venice.

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