Napoleon’s abandoned palace in Venice shines again



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Thursday 13 December 2012

Last update 13 December 2012 12:06 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

After a century of neglect, a magnificent palace built by Napoleon in Venice has re-opened its doors to the public on the island city’s famous St. Mark’s Square thanks to a French restoration effort.
The reasons for the long abandonment are easily explained — Venice is not Napoleon’s biggest fan.
Nor do canal residents have fond memories of the Royal Palace’s most famous resident — 19th-century Austrian empress Elisabeth or “Sisi” — a symbol of the city’s imperial domination.
“In popular consciousness, Napoleon is primarily the man who ended the glorious republic of Venice (697-1797),” said Andrea Bellieni, director of the Correr Museum which oversees the Royal Palace.
A group called French Committee for Safeguarding Venice has financed the restoration of this sumptuous palace, which was in a pitiful state. With a budget of 2.5 million euros ($ 3.2 million) from private donors, the committee has restored the main halls and the empress’s apartment to its old-time splendour when a 19-year-old “Sisi” and her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph I, stayed there.
The furniture decorating the restored chambers is in the same neo-Baroque style popular at the imperial court in Vienna at the time.
The empress’s boudoir is a highlight with its images of feminine allegories and flowery garlands.
Napoleon proclaimed himself King of Italy in 1805 and ordered the palace built in 1807 in front of the iconic St. Mark’s Basilica after visiting Venice, but never actually lived in it.
Built in six years and decorated by French-inspired painter Giuseppe Borsato, the structure is now the only neo-Classical royal palace in Italy.
“We came across it by accident but we were pleasantly surprised,” said Marc and Marie, a couple of 30-somethings visiting from Nimes in France.
“We thought it would just be a museum with paintings but the ballroom is very, very beautiful,” they said.
Bellieni said he hoped it could rehabilitate Napoleon’s image.
“It’s true that Napoleon took a number of artifacts that were part of the history of Venice and sent them to the Louvre, starting with the horse statues on St. Mark’s Square,” he said.
“But it’s also thanks to him that many artworks were saved.”
“Sisi” is also a candidate for rehabilitation.
“She was an extraordinary woman, not just beautiful but also very sensitive and it was here that she managed to convince her husband to liberate political prisoners,” said Jerome Zieseniss, director of the French restoration committee.
The empress visited the palace one last time in 1895 for tea with Italian King Umberto I and Queen Margherita during a sailing stop on her way to Corfu.
The palace’s most notorious guests were dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, who held their first meeting in Venice in June 1934.
The last king of Italy, Umberto II, also visited in 1946 before leaving for exile in Portugal after the country voted to become a republic.
After restoring nine rooms of the palace and opening them to the public this summer, Zieseniss now wants to tackle the emperor’s apartment: four rooms which will cost 800,000 euros to rehabilitate.
A Russian oligarch and a luxury company have agreed to donate the money and Zieseniss said he hopes to complete at least two rooms by spring 2013.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: A Saudi citizen was killed in shelling fired across the border from Yemen into the southwest of Saudi Arabia on Sunday, local media reported.A shell fell on a house around dawn in Najran province, civil defense department spokesman Ali bin Om...
JEDDAH: Female voters in Al-Ahsa have urged the authorities handling the municipal elections to drop the condition of presenting the national identity card while enrolling themselves in the voters’ list. Some women in Madinah too have appealed for mo...
JEDDAH: After the recent incident of a rat eating from a bowl at a well-known food outlet in a Jeddah mall came to light, residents have called for food hygiene ratings of restaurants and roadside eateries across the city.Although the municipality wo...
JEDDAH: A muezzin (one who recites the Adhaan) of a Riyadh mosque recently sprung a surprise in the Austrian tourist town of Zell am See by his Adhaan after taking permission from members of a musical band.Social media is abuzz with the news and vide...
RIYADH: A Sri Lankan national, who works as a cleaner in the Kingdom, was commended and rewarded by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) for returning a bag containing gold to its owner.“Prince Sultan bin Salman, president o...
RIYADH: Bangladesh State Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohammed Shahriar Alam arrived in Jeddah on Sunday to meet with his Saudi counterpart Nizar Madani on Monday.On arrival at the royal terminal, the minister was received by Director General of the...
RIYADH: A report of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage predicts the rate of growth in job opportunities in the country's tourism sector between 2010 and 2020 will be 10 percent a year as compared to a global growth rate of 2.5 per...
JEDDAH: Two million meningitis vaccines have been distributed among health centers in 20 governorates and provinces across the Kingdom for domestic Haj pilgrims.It is mandatory for all pilgrims to be vaccinated against meningitis and for those coming...
JEDDAH: The Makkah governorate has announced four new road projects linking Makkah and Jeddah. The new roads will facilitate smoother and faster travel between the cities.An estimated 35 million people will benefit from the projects, which will inclu...
JEDDAH: A major disaster is waiting to happen in the fish market of Madinah because of the callous attitude of traders toward handling of gas cylinders. A visit to the market presents a dreadful picture of cylinders kept on top of each other without...
JEDDAH: Information and Culture Minister Adel Al-Toraifi has approved the appointment of Khalid Bo-Ali as editor in chief of the Eastern Province-based Alsharq Arabic newspaper. He was nominated for the post by the board of directors of the newspaper...
JEDDAH: Jamil Farsi, head of the Gold and Jewelry Committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), says he expects 3,000 job opportunities to be created for Saudi women in the jewelry design and gold sector across the Kingdom, with ab...
JEDDAH: More than 50 visually challenged people successfully performed Umrah with the help of the Ebsar Foundation for the Visually Impaired and the Ambassadors of Volunteers organization under their program “Umrah for the visually impaired,” which w...
JEDDAH: Although the Ministry of Labor is opening its doors to receive complaints from private sector employees, many Saudi females employed in cosmetic and perfume shops in Madinah are not making complaints about being overworked due to fear of losi...
JEDDAH: Health Minister Dr. Khaled Al-Falih is set to increase the number of beds in all private sector hospitals, as per new implementation regulations adopted this year.The move will help address the problem of delays in public sector projects, as...

Stay Connected

Facebook