One of the most precious and important places in Venice, not only for the magnificence of the interior rooms and exterior architecture, but also because the most famous Venetian coin in the world was minted in this building: the Zecchino d’oro.
To think that this money was so pure (gold at 997/1000) it received the name of pure gold: l’oro zecchino.
A hint of the complex activities of the Mint is only glimpsed from the few remaining objects: an 18th century press and some antique chests of the Republic.
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The Mint was where the coins of the Republic were minted and the treasure of the State and individual’s deposits were kept.
The building, located in Piazza San Marco since the second half of the 13th century, was originally made of wood. After a major fire in 1532 it was decided to rebuild it in Istrian stone and was commissioned to Jacopo Sansovino, who worked on the project between 1537 and 1547.
Initially the building only had one floor, decorated with a rusticated stone ashlars on the ground floor and in the Doric style on the upper floor. In 1558 it was decided to build another floor, of Ionic order. The roof was built with lead sheets. Inside is a courtyard with 30 arches, where furnaces, factory shops and warehouses used to be. A monumental well was built in the courtyard by Danese Cattaneo, designed by Sansovino himself.
You can now see this well in the courtyard of Ca' Pesaro. The most famous Venetian coin was minted here: the Ducato d’oro or the Zecchino. Given its purity (of gold at 997/1000) the coin was given the name of pure gold, l’oro zecchino.
Vincenzo Scamozzi gave the Mint an entrance that connected it to the porch when he completed the Sansovino Library towards the waterfront. Thus a passage was created in correspondence with the seventeenth arch of the portico, where two giants were built by Gerolamo Campagna and Tiziano Aspetti, symbolically defending the Mint. The passage then leads to a severe portal with two Telamons.
Evidence left of the Mint are: an 18th century press visible on the ground floor, and the iron covered studded wooden chests of the Republic, on the first floor.