Little known to the outside world is the Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies. It is located in Venice and is the only research institution of the Greek state outside Greece. 

Venice was originally part of the Justinian’s Byzantine Empire, but in 1204, of course, it captured Constantinople in the 4th Crusade. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Greek community already resident in Venice was enlarged with the influx of refugees and may have reached 4,000. After their initial requests for an orthodox church were denied by Venice, they established a Confraternity in 1498 and were eventually allowed to start a church of St George after 1536; its campanile beside the Rio dei Greci has become the “leaning tower” of Venice. They also set up schools and a hospital for poor Greeks. With the fall of Venice in 1797 to Napoleon, however, the Confraternity’s fortunes waned and eventually the schools closed.

In 1948 the few surviving members of the Confraternity donated the church, adjacent palazzo and all the property to the Greek state. Greece and Italy mutually agreed to the re-opening of the Italian School in Athens and the Italian Institute in Greece and to the establishment in Venice of the Hellenic Institute for Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies. Following the lead of Aldus Manutius, many Greeks in Venice had printed books in Greek, which are now in the Institute’s Biblioteca in addition to Byzantine texts on parchment. A Museum of Byzantine ikons occupies the former hospital. In addition to conferences, the Institute is responsible for an extensive series of publications, including their annual journal Thesaurismata. In the courtyard beside the church of St. George, barely ten minutes walk from St. Mark’s Basilica, the Byzantine flag is flying, last relic of a rich history between the old capitals of two maritime empires.