Foreword

According to tradition Venice was founded in 421 AD. At that time a Celtic people called the Veneti lived along the coast of what is now Northeast Italy. Since 49 BC they had been Roman citizens. However in 453 Attila the Hun invaded Italy. In terror some Veneti fled to islands in the lagoon & built a village there. They soon formed a loose federation. Then in 568 a people called the Lombards invaded the mainland & many Veneti fled to the islands swelling the population.

At first Venice was controlled by the Byzantine Empire (the Eastern half of the Roman Empire, which survived the fall of Rome). However in 726 the Venetians partly gained their independence & elected Orso Ipato as doge (their word for duke).

In 810 the Franks tried but failed to conquer the Venetians. Meanwhile Venice flourished as a trading center & ships sailed to & from its ports. Its population grew steadily. In 828 the body of St Mark was smuggled from Egypt to Venice. St Mark then became the patron saint of the city.

In the Middle Ages Venice continued to flourish as a port & trading center. Meanwhile in 1199 a fourth crusade was proposed. The Venetians agreed to build a fleet of ships to ferry the Crusaders. However when the Crusader army assembled they were unable to pay for the ships. So the Venetians persuaded them to join an expedition to raid Constantinople.

Venetians & Crusaders captured the city in 1204 & they looted it. Venice was also involved in other wars at that time. The Italian city of Genoa was a powerful rival to Venice & during the 13th & 14th centuries the Genoese & Venetians fought 5 wars. Furthermore in 1348 the Black Death devastated the population of Venice. Therefore in 1403 Venice introduced quarantine. Ships arriving from infected areas had to stop at an island called Lazaretto & the passengers had to wait for 40 days before they were permitted to enter the city.

In the 15th century Venice faced a new threat – the Turks. In 1453 they captured Constantinople & afterwards they advanced into Southeast Europe. In 1489 Venice came to rule Cyprus. However in 1571 the Turks conquered the island.

Furthermore in 1508 several European countries formed the League of Cambrai & went to war against Venice. However after 8 years of war the map was largely unchanged.

More serious for Venice was the discovery of North & South America. The result was that trade shifted away from the Mediterranean. Furthermore in 1630 Venice was struck by plague again.

During the 17th century Venice gradually lost power & influence. In the 18th century Venice was politically unimportant although the arts such as opera flourished. Then in 1797 Napoleon dissolved the Republic of Venice. However after his fall in 1815 Venice was handed to Austria.

The railway reached Venice in 1846. However Venice did not prosper under Austrian rule. In 1848 revolutions swept Europe & Venice rose in rebellion against the Austrians. For a short period Daniele Manin became president of an independent Venice. However Austrian forces bombarded the city & Venice was forced to surrender in August 1849. Yet in 1866 the Austrians were defeated by the Prussians & Venice was allowed to join the new nation of Italy.

In the late 19th century Venice flourished as a port & a manufacturing center. Then in 1933 Mussolini built a road from the mainland to Venice. During the Second World War Venice was undamaged by fighting but the Jewish population was deported.

In 1966 Venice suffered a severe flood but the city soon recovered. Today tourism is the mainstay of Venice. However the population of Venice has fallen sharply since the mid 19th century. Today the population of Venice is estimated at around 270,000.

Highlights Of My Trip

Piazza San Marco

Destination No.1 for everyone that visits Venice is of course the Piazza San Marco, a massive square surrounded by long arcades built in the mid 1600’s for the Procurators of St. Mark, high ranking officers of state in the days of the republic of Venice. At the west end of the Piazza is a continued part of the arcade added around 1810 by Napoleon & is thus known as the Ala Napoleonica (Napoleonic Wing). The highlights though are at the east end where the Basilica & Campanile are to be admired. St. Marks Basilica dates back as far as 828 as does the original Campanile. Unfortunately though the original bell tower collapsed in 1902 luckily without casualties other than the caretakers cat.

Murano

The small island of Murano, north of the main lagoon is world renowned for its ornamental, colourful traditional glassblowing creations. The island has other sights of interest, for example the lighthouse & the 12th Century Basilica Santa Maria & Donato. Murano is also known as “Little Venice” & also boasts similar canals & bridges, but with less crowded streets. 2-4 hours & you should have a good impression of the island.

Grand Canal

The 3,8 km (2.4 mi) long Grand Canal is the main water-traffic artery meandering through the middle of Venice starting at the Santa Lucia railway station & ending at Saint Marks Square. The average depth is 5 m (16 feet).  The banks of the canal are lined with over 170 buildings, most of which date back to the 13th-18th centuries. During the summer months the Grand Canal is crowded with Gondolas & river taxis & it can be quite an ordeal to find a relatively quiet spot to sit & watch life go by, not to mention the tourist prices in the cafes & restaurants along the canal. But that’s Venice, take it or leave it I’m afraid.

Night Tour

Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world & this is to be witnessed throughout the year with huge swarms of culture hungry tourists. During the summer months the crowded lanes become unbearable, be it the amount of people or the heat. One is quickly exhausted being almost pushed through the labyrinth of narrow lanes unable to appreciate what one would like to see. What are the alternatives? Well either you come in the Winter months where it can be bitterly cold & wet or you take to the streets at night. This is just what I did & can highly recommend this option. Not only are the streets empty but that romantic, historical ambient gets the fantasy working overtime.  

Piazza San Marco

Murano

Grand Canal

Rialto Bridge

Certosa

Rialto Bridge

Connecting the districts of San Marco with San Polo the Rialto Bridge is the oldest first spanning the Grand Canal way back in 1181 as a pontoon bridge. Due to increased traffic at the Rialto Market this was replaced in 1255 with a wooden bridge. Tragically this collapsed under the weight of a crowd watching a boat parade & collapsed once again in 1524. The bridge that we have today is a stone construction designed by Antonio da Ponte & completed in 1591. The construction is visually similar to its wooden predecessor with shops aligning both sides of the bridge & an arched middle but without the possibility to be raised for tall ships to pass. Today, the Rialto Bridge is an iconic architectural highlight of Venice.

Certosa

Certosa is an island situated directly north-east of the main Venetian Lagoon around 250 m distance from San Pietro di Castello. The island housed a community of Augustinian friars starting from 1199 & after 2 centuries was handed over to the Carthusian Order. After the Napoleonic conquest of Venice, it became a military installation. Since 2010 the island has been under redevelopment with bars, restaurants, nature trails & water sport activities. I spent my only night of sleep in the Venice Certosa Hotel, a newly built hotel http://hotel.ventodivenezia.it/it. I can highly recommend this hotel as it is distant from the crowded lagoon, is of good quality & hygiene & reasonably priced.

LAGOON CITY VENICE

Visit my gallery of images that I collected over 4 days & nights of arduous effort dealing with high temperatures, overcrowded streets & a heavy backpack.  

Travel Journal

I have been able to visit many interesting places due to my addiction to digital travel photography & decided to write a little about those that have captured my attention in the past 10 years.

|

Did You Know?

Venice has one of the narrowest streets in the world. Ramo Varisco street, better known as Calleta is only 53 cm in width. Canals were the main transport communication routes meaning that the main entrances to buildings were always on the canal side. The Venetians weren’t so concerned about the lack of space between buildings at the rear or to the sides, that’s why Venetian streets are often so narrow often built without concept.

Portfolio Index

Complete overview to all categories of my portfolio.

About

Me, my gear, inspiration & answers to frequent questions.

Blog

Putting pictures into words.

Translate »