Torcello - Encyclopedia




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TORCELLO, an island of Venetia, Italy, in the lagoons about 6 m. to the N.W. of Venice, belonging to the commune of Burano. It was a flourishing city in the early middle ages, but now has only a few houses and two interesting churches. The former cathedral of S. Maria was founded in the 7th century. The present building, a basilica with columns, dates from 864; the nave was restored in ro08, in which year the now ruined octagonal baptistery was built. It contains large mosaics of the 12th century, strongly under Byzantine influence; those on the west wall represent the Resurrection and Last Judgment. The seats for the priests are arranged round the semicircular apse, rising in steps with the bishop's throne in the centre - an arrangement unique in Italy. Close by is S. Fosca, a church of the 12th century, octagonal outside, with colonnades on five sides and a rectangular interior intended for a dome which was never executed, beyond which is a three-apsed choir. In the local museum are four Mycenaean vases, one found in the island and another on the adjacent island of Mazzorbo, proving direct intercourse with the Aegean Sea in prehistoric times.

See R. M. Dawkins, in Journal of Hellenic Studies (1904), xxiv. 125.

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