Venice, Italy - A Guide for Travelers
Venice is possibly the most romantic city you'll ever visit. It is almost redundant to describe the charms of this fabulous floating city, surrounded by hundreds of tiny canals. While wandering through the maze of footpaths or sitting back in a gondola and exploring the city by water, be sure to stop and visit San Marco Square, the famous Rialto Bridge, the elegant Doge's Palace, the Bridge of Sighs and the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore. Venice is truly a place like no other, with its quaint alleyways, waterways and way of life.
The first settlements in Venice date back to the 5th century, when the mainland people came to venice to escape the invasions that followed the fall of the Roman Empire, fighting just to survive, overtime these small pieces of land surrounded by water took on the semblance of a real town. A very unique and special place that became the only one like it in the world.
Gondolas, are one of venice's most famous symbols worldwide. This venetian boat is extremely ancient and was the result of complex techniques. The typical gondola is 11 meters long and weighs 600 kilograms. Considering its weight and size it is very easy to maneuver by one person.
Places to see in Venice
St. Mark's Square-is really the heart of Venice, mostly because of its location on the banks of the grand canal, and because of the great number of beautiful, historical monuments located there. Politically and culturally, St. Mark's Square has always been a very important and strategical area in Venice.
The Rialto Bridge's-24-foot arch was designed to allow passage of galleys, and the massive structure was built on some 12,000 wooden pilings that still support the bridge more than 400 years later. The architect, Antonio da Ponte, competed against such eminent designers as Michelangelo and Palladio for the contract.
The bridge has three walkways: two along the outer balustrades, and a wider central walkway leading between two rows of small shops that sell jewelry, linens, Murano glass, and other items for the tourist trade.
The Bridge of Sighs-received its name in the 17th century, because the prisoners who passed through it on their way to the prison cells on the other side would most likely see the beautiful sight of the lagoon and the island of S.Giorgio and freedom for the last time. However, it was only in the 19th century that it came to be called the 'Bridge of Sighs' after Lord Byron's famous reference in his poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage "I stood in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs, a palace and prison on each hand".
Jewish Ghetto-When on March 29th, 1516 the Government of the Serenissima Repubblica issued special laws, the first Ghetto of Europe was instituted. It was an area where Jews were forced to live and which they could not leave from sunset to dawn. The area was closed by gates watched by guards and up till now the marks of the hinges are visible there.
St. Mark's Basilica-majestically symbolizes the lagoon and enshrines the city's history. Possession of the saint's relics enabled the Republic to establish its authority, from 828 onward, over Grado and Aquileia. In 1063, under Doge Domenico Contarini, it was decided to rebuild the church on the same Greek cross plan as the previous one. In 1096 it was finished, but the decorative work continued until the beginning of the 19th century. The model had been furnished by the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople (536-46); five domes covering the crossing and each of the arms, supported by large piers linked by arches. The light was thus directed towards the centre of the basilica, leaving the side aisles in comparative shadow
Venice has a strong classical music scene - top venues to hear Baroque classics from the likes of Vivaldi include Chiesa di Santa Maria delta Pieta, Chiesa di San Bartolomeo and Chiesa delle Zitelle on Giudecca. San Marco's Scuola Grande di San Teodoro, and San Polo's Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista also host concerts, where musicians don 18th century costume and masks, giving an idiosyncratic take on famous works.
Performance art afficionados welcomed the recent return of Venice's opera treasure, the Teatro La Fenice, decimated by fire in 1996. La Fenice also hosts high-calibre ballet, music and theater.
Principal theater venues in Venice include Teatro Goldoni - between the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark's Square - Teatro Fenice, Teatro Malibran and Teatro Italia; all boasting beautiful interiors.
The outstanding Biennale festival showcases some of the world's leading contemporary artists in music, theater, art, dance, cinema and architecture at choice venues every two years.