Since 1717, the cultural activities of the Order of the Mkhitarists (founded in 1701 by the monk Mkhitar Sebastaci) completely changed the history of the small island that is located in the Venetian lagoon. In the 18th century, the island of San Lazzaro became one of the most influential Armenian communities in Italy, where the Armenian people began to preserve their cultural heritage for centuries.
Here you will find a library with a collection of more than 5,000 manuscripts in different languages, 15,000 items of ancient and modern art. Moreover, in one of the rooms of the library there is the Egyptian mummy, which is more than 2700 years old. It was donated to San Lazzaro by the French consul in Egypt – an ethnic Armenian.
Another interesting fact about San Lazzaro: do you know who came from Venice to the island to learn Armenian lamguage? Lord Byron himself! He spent several months between 1816 and 1817 studying Old Armenian language called “grabar”. Indeed, he has several translations from Armenian to English and vice versa.
It is important to note that the island was popular also for Napoleon Bonaparte. He gave the monastery a special permit to continue the activity even after the closure of all religious institutions of Venice in 1810.