Fittingly housed in a Renaissance building in Venice, the National Library of St. Mark’s contains one of the most important collections of classical texts in the world. Though its lengthy construction period would not begin until 1537, collecting for the library began as early as 1468 with a gift from Cardinal Bessarion of 250 manuscripts and 750 codices. As of 1603, a law was enacted that required one copy of all books printed in Venice to be housed at the National Library. Today, the collection encompasses more than a million books, over 13,000 manuscripts, 2,883 incunabula, and more than 24,000 16th-century works.
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