History - Venice, known also as Venezia is
interesting and the City of Venice played a major
role in the development of Italy and Europe. The first
settlers in Venice arrived arount the 5th and 6th
centuries. Residents on the mainland wanted to escape
the marshy areas and moved to the islands in the lagoon.
This labyrinth of tiny islands had very little land
to accommodate new villages and so the new arrivals
built their houses by creating artificial foundations
(they drove stakes into the subsoil on of the seabed
of the islands and in effect their primitive houses
Slowly but surely, a city evolved and Venice became
a Republic. The chief of Venice was called a “doge”,
a term still closely associated with the City
The Venetians had great devotion
to St Mark and in the 9th Century his body was brought
to Venice, reinterred and the massive Basilica of
St Mark was completed by the 11th Century in his honour.
During the Crusades, Venice rose to prominance and
about the 13th Century, the Venetians conquered Constantinople.
The Crusaders brought back jewels and trophies from
their conquests and many of them can still be seen
in the city today including some of the marble statues
in St Mark’s.
At this stage, Venice was an important commercial
port and served as a link between the West and East.
Venice now ruled much of the eastern part of the Mediterranean
and the city was an important centre.
Genoa wanted some of this commercial success and
there were several battles with Venice eventually
winning out in the 14th Century. This was shortly
after the city had suffered greatly from the Black
Death. In the 15th Century, the Republic of
Venice saw its important conquest, Constantinople,
wrested back by the Turks and this had a disastrous
effect on the Venetian dominance of the region.
Further plagues and infighting amongst the city’s
rulers coupled to the Turks incursions on the enieian
Empire led to the loss of Cyprus and other important
areas. Around this time the Doge’s Palace
was burnt down and many treasures were lost.
Napolean ruled Venice for a while
in the first half of the 19th Century and in 1866
Venice became part of the Kingdom of Italy. For a
number of decades, there was an increase in industry
and a railway bridge to link with the mainland was
build opening up further trade. The canals remained
of great importance and were developed and improved.
In the mid 20th Century a major land bridge was built
to the mainland of Italy linking up Venice with Mestre
Increased industry on the mainland has brought problems
to Venice and in 1966 the floods experienced by Venice
was devastating. Although much restoration has taken
place since 1966, water pollution and flooding continues
to be a problem. In fact, the City of Venice
is slowly sinking despite continual measures to improve
matters, and it is hoped that the latest of these
will reverse the process.
Over the last hundred years, tourism has become more
and more important and now Venice is one of the great
Tourist Attractions of the world.