The lagoon island of Murano has been at the heart of Venetian glass production for centuries, the first evidence of which dates back to 982 AD. Murano reached its zenith between the 15th and 16th centuries. This was after all glassworks were moved to Murano by decree. Until 1950 Murano managed to hold the monopoly of glass forging in the world.
In the 13th century, the population numbered over 30,000, Murano enjoyed self-government, minted its own coins and had its own aristocracy. The secrets of glassmaking were passed on and kept within the family. From the 14th century, the daughters of glassmakers were also married by Venetian nobles, such was the prestige of this category. The Murano glass artisans were granted unprecedented privileges. Master glassmakers who left the island to set up their own businesses elsewhere were killed.
Strolling through the narrow streets and colourful houses of Murano remains a pleasant and chaotic experience. But a guided tour of a glass factory is an incredible event to witness, certainly the main attraction for those visiting Murano. You'll find plenty of workshops with exhibition areas where they'll show you how their glass is made. The glass blowers will take drops of molten glass paste at the end of an iron rod. By turning the iron rod and blowing, the hot paste will be transformed into unique works of glass art. These works can be animals, plants, glass goblets, vases, chandeliers or special pieces on request. Of course they won't show you the 'tricks of the trade', but you will get to see how a glass work is created. In almost every factory, the demonstration is free of charge, and the vendors will try to sell you their products at any cost. Remember that you will never be forced to buy if you don't really want to.
If you have a day to dedicate to Murano, we recommend a visit to the Basilica of Santi Maria e Donato. This minor basilica is the so-called Duomo of Murano, a work in Venetian Byzantine style. We also recommend a visit to the Glass Museum, where you can learn more about the history of glass making in Murano.
Murano and its glass industry remain one of the most attractive attractions not only in Venice, but in the whole world.