VENICE, Oct 10 ― After 500 years of being reserved exclusively for the use of politicians and Italian royalty, a monumental landmark in Venice's Piazza San Marco will re-open to the public as an exhibition space that will host art installations, events, seminars and humanitarian projects.
British architect Sir David Chipperfield will spearhead the multi-million-dollar renovations to restore the decaying Procuratie Vecchie, the oldest of three buildings that border the piazza.
The Procuratie Vecchie was built in the 16th century and dominates the north side of the square.
At 152 metres (500 ft) long, it's also the longest building in Venice.
For nearly two centuries, the building served as the headquarters of one of the world's biggest insurance companies, Generali Group, which will be financing the massive restoration project.
Over the next few years, Chipperfield will breathe new life into the palace, transforming the space into a public venue for art exhibition and installations.
The monument will also be home to a new social equality initiative The Humanity Safety Net which, among other projects, will support refugee start-ups.
The building is expected to open in 2020.
The city of Venice receives about 60,000 visitors a day.
The announcement follows on the heels of another development in Italy's tourism industry. For the first time in decades, visitors will be able to climb to the top of Rome's Colosseum and take in the views 120 feet (37m) above ground as of November 1.
During its Gladiator days, the highest levels were reserved for the lowliest members of society, far from the bloody and gruesome battles raging below. ― AFP-Relaxnews