Venice (Venezia, Venexia) is a lagoon sanctuary virtually the same as it was 600 years ago, which adds to the fascinating character.
Venice has decayed since its heyday and suffers from over-tourism, but the romantic charm remains.
It is also known as the birthplace of composers Tomaso Albinoni and Antonio Vivaldi. Venice and its lagoon are a UNESCO World Heritage site. It used to be an independent republic and remains one of Italy’s most important cities, with a quarter-million inhabitants.
Venice’s commune (municipality) is made up of many islands in the Venetian Lagoon and a stretch of terraferma (mainland) in northern Italy.
The commune is divided into six boroughs, the most famous of which (known as Venezia Insulare) comprises the historic city of Venice and the islands of Giudecca, Murano, Burano, Torcello, Mazzorbo, and Sant’Erasmo. Lido and Mestre are other popular areas of the commune.
The historic city is divided into six sestieri (districts): Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, San Polo, Santa Croce, and San Marco, where the main monuments and sights are.
Each sestiere uses separate house numbers. However, they are not allocated in a specific pattern.
History of Venice
The Most Serene Republic of Venice dates back to 827 when a Byzantine Duke moved its seat to what is now known as the Rialto, and for the following 970 years, it prospered on trade (especially from the Silk Road) and under the rule of a Roman-style Senate headed by the Doge. Eventually, the Republic of Venice grew into a powerful city-state and the cradle of the Italian renaissance.
In the late 15th century, the Ottoman Empire’s expansion around the Mediterranean, new routes on the high seas shifted commerce to the Atlantic, demoting Venice’s political status.
The city remains a center for the arts. One of the significant events in the history of Venice was the opening of the first public opera house in 1637, which allowed members of the general public (those who could afford to pay for the tickets) to enjoy what was once court entertainment reserved for the aristocracy, thus allowing the genre of opera to flourish.
Venice was an essential destination of the Grand Tour from the 17th century. In 1797, the city was conquered by Napoleon, a blow from which it never recovered. The city was soon absorbed into Austria-Hungary, then ping-ponged back and forth between Austria and a nascent Italy, but Venice is still a monument to the glory days of the Renaissance, and historical culture still throbs powerfully in the old Italians’ veins.