Before Venice became part of Italy in 1866, it was an association of small islands, ruled by dukes, or doges, for more than 1,000 years. Its location in the Adriatic Sea contributed to its position as a powerful maritime force and trading center throughout its history. Influenced by various peoples including French, Turks, Germans and Greeks, the city of canals is a cosmopolitan amalgam of worlds.
What began as a marshland refuge from barbarian attacks in the 5th century, evolved into a shipping and trading empire by the eleventh century. The Byzantine-style St. Mark’s Basilica, the resting place of St. Mark, was consecrated in 1094 AD and remains a central architectural attraction for its five domes and intricately decorated interior. Another structural gem here is the fifteenth-century Ca’ d'Oro, a former gothic-style residence which now houses various artistic works in the Franchetti Galleria.
Though Venice lost its authority over the seas in the fifteenth century, it soon found another way to attract visitors as the ultimate playground for the rich. Music and art, regular parties and the Carnival festival drew in crowds from all over Europe. Stop by the Academy Gallery to view a sample of the stunning Venetian art from the 13th to 18th centuries. Strolling over the city’s bridges or floating down a canal surrounded by ornate buildings, you can still feel magic and mystery of a place once roamed by Casanova.
Later invaded by Napolean and juggled between the French and the Austrians, the republic of Venice was a city up for grabs until finally the Italians claimed authority here.
A unique destination filled with historic relics from a tumultuous past, this spirited city on the water still enchants travelers from all over the world.