Located a couple of kilometers southeast of Venice and west of the Lido, the islet of San Lazzaro degli Armeni (which translates to Saint Lazarus of the Armenians) is home to a monastery, two museums, a publishing house, and one of the most prominent centers of Armenian culture in the world. Easily accessible by a quick ride with a water boat from San Zaccaria station, the island boasts some 40,000 tourists a year. Part of the seven most beautiful islands of the archipelago, it is without any doubt a must visit.
Surfacing the brackish waters of the Venetian Lagoon and having been a leper colony in the Middle Ages, the island was named after Saint Lazarus, protector of the lepers according to the Bible. It has been home to the Armenian Catholic congregation founded in 1717 by Armenian monk Mekhitar of Sabaste, a theologian and scholar who also established the Mekhitarist Order.
A charming venue, the island has been a favorite destination for many intellectuals from all over the world: among them Lord Byron, Ivan Turgenev, Nikolai Gogol, and Richard Wagner. The monks made this place a major center of Armenian printing. Today, it is known for its collection of Armenian books, manuscripts, and artifacts: one of the largest in the world.
Noteworthy is also the beautiful garden where the monks grow a particular species of roses from which they make a delicious jam. In 2015, during the Venice Biennale, Saint Lazarus hosted the Armenian pavilion, with an exhibition commemorating the centennial of the Armenian Genocide and which was awarded the Golden Lion.