The city on the water – Venice, Italy

Venice – the history of the city on the water

The history of Venice and the origins of the city on the water

Venice is a city in northern Italy, occupying a group of islands. The climate in Venice is temperate, similar to that of the Crimea, with hot summers and mild winters.

The history of Venice is full of ups and downs. Today we’ll find out how the city on the water came to be.

The name of the city comes from the tribe of the Venetians who inhabited the territory on the northern coast of the Adriatic Sea during the time of the Roman Empire. This area was conquered by the Romans and was called Aquileia. Later Aquileia became the administrative center of the province of Venetia. In 402, the province was devastated by the Visigoths. According to legend, Venice was founded by the inhabitants of the province who fled from the Goths on March 25, 421. Settlement began with the Rialto Islands and continued during the decline of the Roman Empire. The main source of income of the inhabitants of the islands was fishing, salt mining and coastal navigation.

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Venice in the summer in Italy

Houses on the water

While the tribes of the Huns, Lombards and Ostgoths were ravaging the cities of the Western Roman Empire, Venice, thanks to its isolated position and to the fact that the inhabitants learned to build houses on stilts and live on the water, escaped the fate of mainland cities. Invasion by belligerent barbarians led to the relocation of wealthy mainlanders to the islands.

The result was a rapid growth of trade and transportation of goods, as the fleeing nobility invested in these very industries.

In the sixth century Venice had the strongest navy on the Adriatic, which supported Emperor Justinian in the war of the Eastern Roman Empire with the Ostgoths. In gratitude, Byzantium granted Venice its protection and trade privileges. The Venetians elected their first Doge in 697. In more than 1,000 years Venice has been ruled by 117 Doges.

Venice aerial photo of the city

Because of its unique location, Venice was a trade and transportation hub for silk, rice, coffee, and spices, which were worth more than gold at the time, to Europe.

Medieval times and trade

The literate policies of Doge Pietro Orseolo II, morganist marriages, and Byzantine aid to Venice against the Saracens further increased the privileges of Venetian merchants. The Byzantine “golden bull” reduced by half the duty on Venetian ships coming to Constantinople. At the time of the Crusades, Venice increased its wealth through loans to crusaders and freights of ships. With varying success for almost two centuries Venice fought wars with Genoa, based on trade rivalry. In the XII century in Venice opened the first banks. Venetian seafarers were the first to begin to insure their cargo.

In XII-XIII centuries in shipyards of Venice began to build large ships with displacement up to 200 tons.

To increase its economic power, the Venetian Republic annexed its mainland territories, called terraferma. In 1494, the Venetian Luca Pacioli systematically described double-entry bookkeeping, which is still used successfully in the modern world.

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Night in Venice

The Decline

Since the great geographic discoveries of the fifteenth century, Venice has surrendered its positions to Portugal, Spain, Holland and England. By the eighteenth century, Venice had lost its former power, and most of its mainland possessions had fallen to Austria. But the city itself radiated with splendor. During this period gambling and prostitution were widespread in Venice.

Summer holidays in Venice

On May 1, 1797 Napoleon declared war on Venice. The Grand Council decided to meet all the demands, on May 12 Doge Ludovico Manin abdicated the throne.

For the first time in more than a thousand years Venice lost its independence.

The city’s economy was undermined by the French continental blockade. But time passed, the Suez Canal was opened in 1869, a new port was built in Venice, and the city became a popular place to start traveling to the East. The tourist business developed, annual international art exhibitions were held in Venice, and since 1932 the Golden Lion international film festival was held.

Venice – the ancient city on the water

Venice is the most unique city in the world, located on 118 islands in the northern region of Italy. Few people know that half of this population center is located on the mainland. However, its historical part with the many canals connecting the islands to each other has for years been attracting tourists from all over the world. What is so fascinating to travelers Venice? About all the most interesting things in this city and will be discussed further in the article.

View of the Venice Lagoon

The romantic city on the water

Venice is the administrative center of the eponymous region and province. Its islands are connected by 150 canals, which in turn are connected by bridges. There are about 400 of them. The entire island part of the city is considered a monument of architecture and together with the lagoon islands is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The name of the present town is derived from the ancient province of Venetia which was named after the Venetian tribes who inhabited it.

Historical Info

The first settlements on the territory of Venice date back to the 5th century. The mainland areas were originally inhabited, but after the barbarian invasions, the people moved to the lagoon of Venice to try to save themselves. In the seventh century the islands of the lagoon were united and placed under the rule of a single ruler. Here the head of state was called the Doge.

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Until the 16th century, Venice was an independent state and a major trading center of Europe. It was also the only city in medieval Europe that did not have vassalage (a hierarchical system of relations between the landowners of that time). However, after the war with the Turks and the emergence of large trading states in Europe, the city suffered economic decline.

At the end of the 18th century the city was conquered by Napoleon Bonaparte and passed to Austria. It became part of Italy in the mid-19th century as the administrative center of the province of the same name.


The city is located in the northeastern part of Italy in its province of Venice. It is located both on the mainland and the island with access to the Adriatic Sea. Venice has a major seaport. The island part of the city is connected to the mainland by a road bridge.

Venice on the map

How to reach

By plane. The city has the largest international airport in Italy named after Marco Polo. It is located in the suburbs about 12 km from Venice. Also about 20 km from the city is the airport of Treviso – commercial airport which receives flights from Europe.

By train. If you get to Venice from other Italian cities, you can use the train service. The city’s main railway station is Santa Lucia, which is used by trains from almost all over Europe. It is the terminal station and is located on the west side of the Grand Canal.

Ferry. On one of the islands there is a sea station, which regularly receives ferries and cruise ships.

Cruise liner in Venice

Travel around the city is by bus, water cab, gondola, and mini-metro. More information about public transport is described in the Transportation section.

Climatic features

Venice has a rather hot summer climate. From this visit the city is advised to spring (March – May), when the weather is most comfortable for recreation. You can also come to town in autumn, before November, when the rainy season has not yet begun, and the sultry heat has receded.

Winter in Venice is mild with temperatures ranging from 0 to 8 degrees. During this time, the city gets a lot of rain and flooding occurs. Frosts and snowfalls are rare.

The coldest month is January. Its temperature ranges from -0.9 to 5 degrees Celsius. The hottest month of the year is July, with an average temperature of about 28 degrees above zero.

Venice Climate


Venice, a city without cars, buses or bicycles, is the most unique attraction in the world. Not for nothing it was included in the UNESCO list. The city is built on stilts made of strong non-rotting coniferous wood, larch. But to everyone’s regret, this magnificent city is sinking. Venice sinks into the sea annually by 5 mm. According to scientists’ calculations it may sink completely in the next 80 years.

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View of the square from the water

Tourists in Venice can amaze any tourist with its Renaissance architecture. Start the tour of Venice beauty should be at its heart – Piazza San Marco. Located on the main square in the center of the city. Popular to visit here is the Doge’s Palace, one of the most important sights. This is a monument of Gothic Italian architecture of the XIV – XVI centuries. It served as a residence for the then rulers of Venice.

Doge Palace

Also on the square you can admire the cathedral of St. Mark of the IX century. Made in the Byzantine style and together with the palace and other buildings form an architectural ensemble. On the other side of the square there is the National Library of San Marco, the clock tower and the bell tower.

St Mark's Cathedral

From the Doge’s Palace you can walk to the famous Bridge of Sighs. It leads from the courthouse to the prison. By the way, the name of the bridge comes not from the thrilling joyful sighs of romantics, as you might think, but from the desperate sighs of prisoners walking across the bridge and contemplating the city for the last time.

Bridge of Sighs

The most famous attraction of the city is the Rialto Bridge. It’s an ancient bridge, the very first in Venice. It is built over the Grand Canal in the Rialto. Originally it was built of wood and only at the end of the 16th century was it made of stone. Today it is the symbol of Venice. Also next to it is the famous market of the same name and the old church of San Giacometo.

Rialto Bridge

In addition to the Doge’s Palace in the city there are many other palaces that are worth seeing. In addition, most of them can be seen directly from the canal during a gondola ride. One of the most beautiful and famous palaces is considered to be Ca d’Oro, or Palazzo Santa Sofia. You may hear it called the Golden House because of the original decoration of its façade with gold leaf.

Cai Dai Palace

The entire island part of the city is considered a monument of architecture, so walking around Venice you can contemplate the beautiful cathedrals, palaces and other buildings, crossing from alley to alley.

Entertainment and excursions

For lovers of cultural leisure in the city there are many museums. Very popular excursions are trips to the famous Murano Glass Museum in Murano and the Museum of Lace on the island of Burano. Here all tourists often buy the famous Venetian glass and lace.

Murano Glassworks

Very fascinating and also romantic excursions are offered by gondolas on the Grand Canal. In addition to a quiet sea voyage through the narrow streets there is an opportunity to view the architecture of the city from the water and, of course, to watch the gondolier at work.

County Cork

Gondola Ride

Interesting fact! Did you know that there are only 433 gondoliers in Venice and that number never changes? This is done in order to avoid traffic jams on the canal. Gondoliers can only be of Venetian descent.

Those who decide to visit this romantic city in February should definitely visit one of the highlights of Italy – the annual Venice Carnival. It takes place 12 days before Lent, during our Shrovetide season. This is one of the most exciting events in the country and in the world.

Venice Carnival

At this time, the city is visited by millions of tourists. At the carnival it is customary for everyone to wear masks and unusual colorful costumes. It takes place on the main square in Venice.


Go out all night long in Venice is not possible. Clubs and bars here are often closed until midnight, some only work until 1 or 2 am. The following places are recommended for nighttime entertainment:

For those who like to dance, the disco establishments Piccolo Mondo, Sound Garden will do.

Venice Beach

Despite the fact that none of the tourists go to Venice for a beach holiday, the beach area there. It is located on the outer island of Lido on the Adriatic Sea. The beaches are long and sandy. In good weather they are always full of locals.

Lido Beaches


By bus. Car. There are ACTV buses on the mainland. You can take them to Piazzale Roma. You can also rent a car on the land part of Venice, but it will not be a very convenient option for tourists. To travel to the island part of the car will still have to leave.

Bus in Venice

Water transport. The main transport of the city, of course, is water transport. Water cab is a popular and convenient means of transportation in Venice, but it is not cheap. Ride it will cost at least 15 euros and another 2 euros for every minute of the trip. Cabs are equipped with meters, which are calculated and the cost of travel.

Water Taxi

Gondolas are mostly used by tourists to ride on the canal. The price for this transport is not charged per person but per gondola, which can hold up to six people. The price of a half-hour ride is 80 to 100 euros. In the evening a little more expensive.


Vaporetto is a water bus that runs along all the canals and to the nearest islands. Ticket price starts at 7 euros. Traghetto – ferry across the canal from one bank to another. To cross by this mode of transport will cost about 2 euros.

A good way to save money is to buy a Tourist Travel Card. This is a vaporetto and bus pass that is valid for 24 hours (€20), 48 hours (€30), 72 hours (€40) and a week (€60).

Minimetro. The minimetro is located on the artificial island of Tronchetto. The line is not more than one kilometer long. You can take it from Tronchetto to Marritima and Piazzale Roma. The cost of such a trip will cost 1 euro.

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Where to stay

Venice provides a wide choice of housing for all tastes and wallets. Prices vary greatly – an average of 30 to 350 euros per day. Keep in mind that it is cheaper to rent an apartment on the mainland part of town than on the island. But then you still have to pay to get to the center. Therefore, for those wishing to have a good tour of historic Venice is better to stay on one of the islands.

Recommended by tourists hotels in Venice:

Among the hostels recommend Haven Hostel San Toma in San Polo, Easy Hostel Venice in Dorsoduro, Generator Venice on the island of Giudecca.

Cuisine and restaurants in Venice

The main food in Venice is seafood. Here you can enjoy shrimp, mussels, octopus, cuttlefish and fish. Meat is not a popular product here. Venetian cuisine is similar to the Italian cuisine, but has some differences. Its basis is the seafood. “Chip” of the Venetians is pasta with cuttlefish ink. Of drinks in the city is Venetian spritz (spritz), a cocktail made from a mixture of wines.

Venetian pasta with cuttlefish ink

The most popular institution in Venice is Caffè Florian. It is the oldest in the city. Many famous people have dropped in here. Location of the cafe – Piazza San Marco.

Caffè Florian

Restaurants that are recommended to visit according to the reviews of tourists:

  • Cocaeta;
  • Osteria Al Squero;
  • All’Arco.

Near Piazza San Marco the cafes will be more expensive and with less quality service. To eat well and not too expensive, it is better to choose not the central areas of the city.


The main shopping in Venice are souvenirs. Tourists bring from the romantic city of Murano glass, lace, masks and various souvenir trinkets.

In the central square sell a lot of cheap Chinese things that have nothing to do with Venice. When buying a mask, you should know that it could be a cheap Chinese fake. Venetian masks are sold in specialized stores. Their price starts at 25 euros.

Venetian Masks

Venice – the amazing city, which attracts tourists from all over the world for a secluded vacation and new experiences. While there is still an opportunity and Venice is not submerged, you should visit this wonderful place, take a gondola ride on the Grand Canal, choose the most beautiful mask to visit the carnival, and see the beautiful architecture of the Renaissance. Have an exciting vacation in Venice!

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