Venice, city of contrasts

Oct 4, 2020 | Travel | 0 comments

Venice, a city of extremes of wealth and vistas. A city with an amazing history, built on wealth as a trading centre point with Asia for hundreds of years.

According to tradition Venice was founded in 421 AD. At first Venice was ruled by the Byzantine Empire also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire which survived the fall of the Rome. Since 49BC they had been Roman citizens. Meanwhile, Venice flourished as a trading center and ships sailed to and 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.

The Middle Ages saw Venice grow and flourish as a major trading port. The city experienced many issues such as the plague and in 1348 Black Death devastated the city and again in 1630. The history of Venice is complex and beyond detailed description in this brief article. There are many useful references worthy of studying the incredible story of Venice through the ages. Venice was for hundreds of years the wealthiest and one of the most powerful cities in Europe because of its strategic location for trade with the Middle East and Asia.

Venice today is still a cultural centre with Opera and the arts and of course the unique architecture and canal network.Tourism is now the main source of income for Venice.

15th century Venetians dealt with rubbish disposal  by throwing it into that canals and to some extent sewage does find its way into the canals. Fortunately the tide “cleans” out the canal system twice a day.

At the last count there are 391 bridges over the 150 different canals in the city. Don’t try swimming in the canals, it isn’t allowed and in any case the concerns about the risk of infection from potential fecal matter in the canals.

Cars are not permitted in the city and transport is entirely using the canal system. Eating out in Venice is very expensive. For just over £100 ($123 US) you can take a half day trip on a gondola to view the city from with a knowledgable gondolier who can show you the city from the water, who knows, he might even serenade you. Check the most favourable time of the year for weather.


The Venetian canals running through Venice, which makes the city a collection of tiny islands connected by the 391  bridges and walkways. While there are 150 different canals, the biggest and most impressive one is The Grand Canal, overlooked by The Doge’s Palace and the beautiful Basilica of St Mary.

The Grand Canal, the main thoroughfare in Venice and the Rialto Bridge which spans the narrowest part of the Grand Canal.

The Rialto Bridge is the oldest of the 4 bridges that cross the Grand Canal. It spans 157 feet. The bridge has been rebuilt several times and was first constructed as a pontoon bridge in 1173. Construction of the present bridge was finished in the 16th century.

Today the Rialto Bridge is a very popular tourist destination

View of St. Mark’s Basilica above the San Marco Square

The St. Mark’s Basilica was founded in the 11th century to house the corpse of St Mark after Venetian merchants smuggled it out of Egypt in a barrel of pork fat. Its opulent design, gold ground mosaics, as a status and symbol of Venetian wealth and power. A must visit when in Venice.

View of San Giorgio Maggiore Island, Venice

The origins of San Giorgio Maggiore date back to 790, when the first church was built on what was then called the island of the cypresses. The Church of San Giorgio Maggiore is not the original church of the island. The first one was built around 790 and was destroyed by the earthquake in 1223. The present Church was completed in 1611.

If you want a beautiful view of the whole of Venice, the lagoon and the islands, take the elevator to the top of the bell tower (approx. 60 meter) of the San Giorgio Maggiore church.


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