History in Venice

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Map Room at the Palazzo Ducale

Map Room at the Palazzo Ducale

Ellen Fields

The Republic of Venice, located in northern Italy, was founded in the ninth century when the Venetians prevented the Francs from abducting this island. Venice was, however, not distinctive in any way yet. Whether it was a theft or a cheap bargain, the arrival of the body of the saint Evangelist Mark by the eleventh doge changed everything. No saint without a legend and the legend was established very soon. When St. Mark set foot on the lagoon island, he was welcomed by an angel who told him that on the very spot where he was standing, an impressive city would come into being. After the arrival of the body- the bones of St. Mark were buried in the Basilica di San Marco's, Venice prospered and could no longer be ignored on the world-stage.

Venice became the first and the biggest trading power in the world. That is, the world before the great expeditions during the fifteenth and the sixteenth century. Through trade the Venetians prospered and Venice rapidly accumulated wealth. Venetians merchants established monopolies and used the Crusades as a tool to increase their trading power. They forced the Crusaders to attack rival traders in Constantinople in exchange for transportation to the Arab Empire in the Middle East. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Portuguese arrived in the Indies and the Venetians had to face the loss of their monopoly of spices. However, the tendency to self-idolizing fed the urge to find a new alternative: art flourished as never before. At the same time that Venice had to face the end of its trading status, it reached its artistic pinnacle, both in architecture and painting

The Venetians decided to maintain the 'chaotic' form of the city. Until the Renaissance, Venice gained its own distinctive character by colouring the city with marble, red brick and using all sorts of architectural elements the Venetians imported and adjusted from elsewhere in Italy or collected during travels abroad. Gothic and Roman-Byzantium architecture gave way to the Renaissance and its most important architect, Jacopo Sansovino, halfway during the fifteenth century. He and his pupils put their mark on the city before the Renaissance was overwhelmed by the exuberant style of the Baroque, the style which contributed heavily to the Venice you are experiencing this day. In 1866, Venice became part of the kingdom of Italy. Twentieth century Venice mainly exists because of its visitors and their presence at the yearly local and international events, such as the 'Film-festival of Venice' and the 'Mostra Biennale Internazionale d'Arta Moderna', the later offering an overview of modern painting and sculpture.

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April 03, 2006 change by giorgio

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