Burano is located in northern Italy on the Venetian Lagoon and creates a municipality with Venice and Murano. Crisscrossed by canals, it consists of four islets connected by bridges and can be reached from Venice by water tram. The most eye-catching element is the magnificent brightly coloured architecture to which Burano owes its popularity.

What cultural factors influenced the fact that today this place is teeming with colours, whether the island also offers other architecture and from which period do these Italian buildings come from? The answer to these questions is provided in this article.

Architecture of Cities: Burano, Italy: Rainbow Architecture Sheet1
The plan of Burano_<<©https://www.google.com/maps
Architecture of Cities: Burano, Italy: Rainbow Architecture Sheet2
Top view of Burano_<<©www.pinterest.com

The Influence of Historical Conditions

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The frontage of buildings along the canal>>_<<©https://www.italiapozaszlakiem.com/burano-wenecja/

The oldest traces of history move us to the 6th century and Roman civilization that probably settled down on this island. The first most popular profession caused by its location near water was fishing. Later, the island was managed by external centres and itself owned only a few privileges. 

Finally, it became more developed in the 16th century due to the production of lace with needles that were exported to other European countries. This craft was so popular as a unique masterpiece that even Leonardo da Vinci visited Burano to buy some lace for one of his artworks. 

Even now, some of the citizens produce traditional handmade lace that is desirable as a souvenir. Today, the colourful architecture is the most iconic element of Burano and it was started because of fishermen’s desire to make their home more visible from the ocean even in bad weather conditions. Nowadays citizens have to continue that house painting tradition and the colour has to be accepted by the government that takes care of their uniqueness.

Rainbow Architecture

Architecture of Cities: Burano, Italy: Rainbow Architecture Sheet4
Frontage of buildings along the canal>>_<<©https://www.flickr.com/photos/czame/12372768204/

 The Burano, despite being located close to Venice, does not have much in common with elegant, stone buildings. It creates an informal style that reminds of fairyland. Firstly, Burano’s houses were built of woven canes and mud, then it was replaced with brick painted on the external side. The range of colours is varied and covers pastel roses, yellows, blues, greens. Summing up, every bright and vibrant colour can be found on these residential buildings. 

Taking a closer look at the elevation of any building, we observe that it has a simple, almost modernist form as if they were only a canvas for artistic colours. Two or three-storey buildings are covered with a sloping roof with ceramic tiles. The rectangular windows have frames and window sills painted with white, some of them also have dark green shutters. The front entrance doors finished with an arch and delicate cornice are the only decorative details.

Sacred Architecture of Burano

Does Burano offer any other type of architecture? Yes, this island also offers non-residential buildings finished with raw brick. One of them is the Leaning Tower, located on the south side of the island, a very characteristic object in the city skyline. This 53 metres high structure that has a function of a bell tower, was built in the seventeenth century. The two meters slope deviation of the building from the axis is caused by the wetlands and probably the wrong way of foundation.

Architecture of Cities: Burano, Italy: Rainbow Architecture Sheet5
The Leaning Tower>> _<<©www.casaburano.it

The bell tower is located close to the Church of San Martino, between the fenced church square and the Piazza Baldassarre Galuppi, the public one located on the north side. This 16th-century Roman Catholic Church has an elevation that looks unfinished, sloping roof and semicircular windows. The interior with a three-bay division was finished in Baroque style. The other religious building located nearby is the Chapel of Santa Barbara which is located on the frontage of residential buildings and has a similar size like them.

Architecture of Cities: Burano, Italy: Rainbow Architecture Sheet6
Church of San Martino>> _<<©www.romeprivateguides.com

Must See in Burano

The trip to Burano usually takes one day and is a relaxing walk but there are some objects not mentioned before and that you must see. First of them is the Lace Museum with the 19th-century building that unlike most of the buildings on the island has a typical Venetian style. The building with arcaded windows with slats and white arches gives the elevations a very elegant appearance. The museum collection consists of traditional lace craft and the history of Burano connected with this precious craft.

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Lace Museum>> _ <<©https://www.viator.com

If all the rainbow buildings are not enough for you, then you need to see Bepi’s House, the most colourful and popular house on the island. Bepi, also known as Giuseppe Toselli, was a lover of painting and geometrical paintings on the elevation were made by him. Numerous footbridges located on the canals are not only an architectural attraction in itself but also a good viewpoint. The best perspective for photos provides the Tre Ponti Bridge.

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Bepi’s House>> _ <<©https://www.isoladiburano.it/it/casa-di-bepi.html

The architecture of Burano, with all its colourfulness, can illuminate the island on a foggy day and make the faces of tourists or even people watching the photos in this article smile. In a world dominated by monochrome buildings, where glass and steel are now the most desirable façade materials and architectural monuments usually offer raw stone or brick, visiting a city like Burano can be an interesting experience. 

Burano island is a must-visit architectural spot and you can imagine what it would feel like to wander through these fabulous streets!

Author

An architect from Poland who was educated also in Finland. Being at the beginning of her career she looks for a balance between architecture and nature. Despite the interest in the history of architecture she search for modern design solutions.

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