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    Kingdom of Odoacer — Ostrogothic Kingdom — Eastern Roman Empire — Exarchate of Ravenna — Republic of Venice — Habsburg Monarchy — Kingdom of Italy — Kingdom of Lombardy—Venetia — Republic of San Marco — Kingdom of Lombardy—Venetia — Kingdom of Italy — Although no surviving historical records deal directly with the founding of Venice, [19] tradition and the available evidence have led several historians to agree that the original population of Venice consisted of refugees—from nearby Roman cities such as Padua , Aquileia , Treviso , Altino , and Concordia modern Portogruaro , as well as from the undefended countryside—who were fleeing successive waves of Germanic and Hun invasions.

    The traditional founding is identified with the dedication of the first church, that of San Giacomo on the islet of Rialto Rivoalto , "High Shore" —said to have taken place at the stroke of noon on 25 March the Feast of the Annunciation.

    The last and most enduring immigration into the north of the Italian peninsula, that of the Lombards in , left the Eastern Roman Empire only a small strip of coastline in the current Veneto, including Venice.

    Ravenna and Venice were connected only by sea routes, and with the Venetians' isolation came increasing autonomy. New ports were built, including those at Malamocco and Torcello in the Venetian lagoon.

    The tribuni maiores formed the earliest central standing governing committee of the islands in the lagoon, dating from c. The traditional first doge of Venice , Paolo Lucio Anafesto Anafestus Paulicius , was elected in , as written in the oldest chronicle by John, deacon of Venice c.

    Some modern historians claim Paolo Lucio Anafesto was actually the Exarch Paul , and Paul's successor, Marcello Tegalliano , was Paul's magister militum or "general" , literally "master of soldiers".

    In the soldiers and citizens of the exarchate rose in a rebellion over the iconoclastic controversy , at the urging of Pope Gregory II.

    The exarch, held responsible for the acts of his master, Byzantine Emperor Leo III , was murdered, and many officials were put to flight in the chaos.

    At about this time, the people of the lagoon elected their own independent leader for the first time, although the relationship of this to the uprisings is not clear.

    Ursus was the first of " doges " doge is the Venetian dialectal equivalent of the Latin dux "leader" ; the corresponding word in English is duke , in standard Italian duca.

    See also " duce ". Whatever his original views, Ursus supported Emperor Leo III 's successful military expedition to recover Ravenna, sending both men and ships.

    In recognition of this, Venice was "granted numerous privileges and concessions" and Ursus, who had personally taken the field, was confirmed by Leo as dux.

    In , the Lombard King Aistulf conquered most of the Exarchate of Ravenna, leaving Venice a lonely and increasingly autonomous Byzantine outpost.

    Settlement on the islands in the lagoon probably increased with the Lombard conquest of other Byzantine territories, as refugees sought asylum in the area.

    During the reign of duke Agnello Particiaco — the ducal seat moved from Malamocco to the more protected Rialto, within present-day Venice.

    The monastery of St. Zachary and the first ducal palace and basilica of St. Mark , as well as a walled defense civitatis murus between Olivolo and Rialto, were subsequently built here.

    Charlemagne sought to subdue the city to his rule. He ordered the pope to expel the Venetians from the Pentapolis along the Adriatic coast; [28] Charlemagne's own son Pepin of Italy , king of the Lombards , under the authority of his father, embarked on a siege of Venice itself.

    This, however, proved a costly failure. The siege lasted six months, with Pepin's army ravaged by the diseases of the local swamps and eventually forced to withdraw in A few months later, Pepin himself died, apparently as a result of a disease contracted there.

    In the aftermath, an agreement between Charlemagne and the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus in recognized Venice as Byzantine territory, and granted the city trading rights along the Adriatic coast.

    In the new city's prestige increased with the acquisition, from Alexandria , of relics claimed to be of St Mark the Evangelist ; these were placed in the new basilica.

    Winged lions—visible throughout Venice—are the emblem of St Mark. The patriarchal seat was also moved to Rialto.

    As the community continued to develop, and as Byzantine power waned, its own autonomy grew, leading to eventual independence.

    From the 9th to the 12th century, Venice developed into a city state an Italian thalassocracy or repubblica marinara ; there were three others: Genoa , Pisa , and Amalfi.

    Its own strategic position at the head of the Adriatic made Venetian naval and commercial power almost invulnerable.

    The Republic of Venice seized a number of places on the eastern shores of the Adriatic before , mostly for commercial reasons, because pirates based there were a menace to trade.

    The doge already possessed the titles of Duke of Dalmatia and Duke of Istria. Later mainland possessions, which extended across Lake Garda as far west as the Adda River , were known as the Terraferma ; they were acquired partly as a buffer against belligerent neighbours, partly to guarantee Alpine trade routes, and partly to ensure the supply of mainland wheat on which the city depended.

    In building its maritime commercial empire, Venice dominated the trade in salt, [32] acquired control of most of the islands in the Aegean , including Crete , and Cyprus in the Mediterranean, and became a major power-broker in the Near East.

    By the standards of the time, Venice's stewardship of its mainland territories was relatively enlightened and the citizens of such towns as Bergamo , Brescia , and Verona rallied to the defence of Venetian sovereignty when it was threatened by invaders.

    Venice remained closely associated with Constantinople, being twice granted trading privileges in the Eastern Roman Empire, through the so-called golden bulls or "chrysobulls", in return for aiding the Eastern Empire to resist Norman and Turkish incursions.

    In the first chrysobull, Venice acknowledged its homage to the empire; but not in the second, reflecting the decline of Byzantium and the rise of Venice's power.

    Venice became an imperial power following the Fourth Crusade , which, having veered off course, culminated in by capturing and sacking Constantinople and establishing the Latin Empire.

    As a result of this conquest, considerable Byzantine plunder was brought back to Venice. This plunder included the gilt bronze horses from the Hippodrome of Constantinople , which were originally placed above the entrance to the cathedral of Venice, St Mark's Basilica The originals have been replaced with replicas, and are now stored within the basilica.

    After the fall of Constantinople, the former Eastern Roman Empire was partitioned among the Latin crusaders and the Venetians. Venice subsequently carved out a sphere of influence in the Mediterranean known as the Duchy of the Archipelago , and captured Crete.

    The seizure of Constantinople proved as decisive a factor in ending the Byzantine Empire as the loss of the Anatolian themes , after Manzikert.

    Although the Byzantines recovered control of the ravaged city a half-century later, the Byzantine Empire was terminally weakened, and existed as a ghost of its old self, until Sultan Mehmet The Conqueror took the city in Situated on the Adriatic Sea , Venice had always traded extensively with the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim world.

    By the late 13th century, Venice was the most prosperous city in all of Europe. At the peak of its power and wealth, it had 36, sailors operating 3, ships, dominating Mediterranean commerce.

    Venice's leading families vied with each other to build the grandest palaces and to support the work of the greatest and most talented artists.

    The city was governed by the Great Council , which was made up of members of the noble families of Venice. The Great Council appointed all public officials, and elected a Senate of to individuals.

    Since this group was too large for efficient administration, a Council of Ten also called the Ducal Council, or the Signoria , controlled much of the administration of the city.

    One member of the great council was elected " doge ", or duke, to be the chief executive; he would usually hold the title until his death, although several Doges were forced, by pressure from their oligarchical peers, to resign and retire into monastic seclusion, when they were felt to have been discredited by political failure.

    The Venetian governmental structure was similar in some ways to the republican system of ancient Rome, with an elected chief executive the doge , a senator-like assembly of nobles, and the general citizenry with limited political power, who originally had the power to grant or withhold their approval of each newly elected doge.

    Church and various private properties were tied to military service, although there was no knight tenure within the city itself.

    The Cavalieri di San Marco was the only order of chivalry ever instituted in Venice, and no citizen could accept or join a foreign order without the government's consent.

    Venice remained a republic throughout its independent period, and politics and the military were kept separate, except when on occasion the Doge personally headed the military.

    War was regarded as a continuation of commerce by other means whence, the city's early employment of large numbers of mercenaries for service elsewhere, and later its reliance on foreign mercenaries when the ruling class was preoccupied with commerce.

    Although the people of Venice generally remained orthodox Roman Catholics, the state of Venice was notable for its freedom from religious fanaticism, and executed nobody for religious heresy during the Counter-Reformation.

    This apparent lack of zeal contributed to Venice's frequent conflicts with the papacy. In this context, the writings of the Anglican divine William Bedell are particularly illuminating.

    Venice was threatened with the interdict on a number of occasions and twice suffered its imposition. The second, most noted, occasion was in , by order of Pope Paul V.

    The newly invented German printing press spread rapidly throughout Europe in the 15th century, and Venice was quick to adopt it.

    By , Venice was the printing capital of the world; the leading printer was Aldus Manutius , who invented paperback books that could be carried in a saddlebag.

    His Aldine Editions included translations of nearly all the known Greek manuscripts of the era. Venice's long decline started in the 15th century, when it first made an unsuccessful attempt to hold Thessalonica against the Ottomans when they started to attack — It also sent ships to help defend Constantinople against the besieging Turks After Constantinople fell to Sultan Mehmed II , he declared the first of a series of Ottoman-Venetian wars that cost Venice much of its eastern Mediterranean possessions.

    Even more decisive than the Columbian exchange and the beginning of Atlantic trade following Christopher Columbus's voyage of was Vasco da Gama 's first voyage of —99, which opened a sea route to India around the Cape of Good Hope and destroyed Venice's monopoly.

    France, England, and the Dutch Republic quickly followed Spain and Portugal, but Venice's oared galleys were at a disadvantage when it came to traversing the great oceans, and therefore Venice was left behind in the race for colonies.

    The Black Death devastated Venice in , and once again between and However, the Venetian empire remained a major exporter of agricultural products, and until the midth century, a significant manufacturing center.

    During the 18th century, Venice became perhaps the most elegant and refined city in Europe, greatly influencing art, architecture, and literature.

    But the Republic lost its independence when Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Venice on 12 May during the War of the First Coalition. Napoleon was seen as something of a liberator by the city's Jewish population.

    He removed the gates of the Ghetto and ended the restrictions on when and where Jews could live and travel in the city.

    Venice became Austrian territory when Napoleon signed the Treaty of Campo Formio on 12 October The Austrians took control of the city on 18 January Venice was taken from Austria by the Treaty of Pressburg in and became part of Napoleon's Kingdom of Italy.

    It was returned to Austria following Napoleon's defeat in , when it became part of the Austrian-held Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia.

    In a revolt briefly re-established the Venetian republic under Daniele Manin , but this was crushed in In , after the Third Italian War of Independence , Venice, along with the rest of the Veneto, became part of the newly created Kingdom of Italy.

    During the Second World War , the historic city was largely free from attack, the only aggressive effort of note being Operation Bowler , a successful Royal Air Force precision strike on the German naval operations in the city in March The targets were destroyed with virtually no architectural damage inflicted on the city itself.

    Venice sits atop alluvial silt washed into the sea by the rivers flowing eastward from the alps across the Veneto plain, with the silt being stretched into long banks, or lidi , by the action of the current flowing around the head of the Adriatic Sea from east to west.

    Subsidence , the gradual lowering of the surface of Venice, has contributed—along with other factors—to the seasonal Acqua alta "high water" when much of the city's surface is occasionally covered at high tide.

    Those fleeing Barbarian invasions who found refuge on the sandy islands of Torcello, Iesolo, and Malamocco, in this coastal lagoon, learned to build by driving closely spaced piles consisting of the trunks of alder trees, a wood noted for its water resistance, into the mud and sand, [45] [46] until they reached a much harder layer of compressed clay.

    Building foundations rested on plates of Istrian limestone placed on top of the piles. Between autumn and early spring, the city is often threatened by flood tides pushing in from the Adriatic.

    Six hundred years ago, Venetians protected themselves from land-based attacks by diverting all the major rivers flowing into the lagoon and thus preventing sediment from filling the area around the city.

    In , to defray the cost of flood relief, Venice introduced what could be considered the first example of a " stamp tax ".

    At first, this was to be a temporary tax, but it remained in effect until the fall of the Republic in Shortly after the introduction of the tax, Spain produced similar paper for general taxation purposes, and the practice spread to other countries.

    During the 20th century, when many artesian wells were sunk into the periphery of the lagoon to draw water for local industry, Venice began to subside.

    It was realized that extraction of water from the aquifer was the cause. The sinking has slowed markedly since artesian wells were banned in the s.

    However, the city is still threatened by more frequent low-level floods—the Acqua alta , that rise to a height of several centimetres over its quays—regularly following certain tides.

    In many old houses, staircases once used to unload goods are now flooded, rendering the former ground floor uninhabitable.

    In May , Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi inaugurated the MOSE Project Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico , an experimental model for evaluating the performance of hollow floatable gates; the idea is to fix a series of 78 hollow pontoons to the sea bed across the three entrances to the lagoon.

    According to a spokesman for the FAI :. If the barriers are closed at only 90 cm of high water, most of St Mark's will be flooded anyway; but if closed at very high levels only, then people will wonder at the logic of spending such sums on something that didn't solve the problem.

    And pressure will come from the cruise ships to keep the gates open. On 13 November , Venice was flooded when waters peaked at 1. The city's mayor, Luigi Brugnaro , blamed the floods on climate change.

    The chambers of the Regional Council of Veneto began to be flooded around 10 pm, two minutes after the council rejected a plan to combat global warming.

    At the same time, the city is sinking, the result of tectonic plates shifting below the Italian coast. Those factors together, along with the more frequent extreme weather events associated with climate change, contribute to floods.

    Henk Ovink , an expert on flooding, told CNN that, while environmental factors are part of the problem, "historic floods in Venice are not only a result of the climate crisis but poor infrastructure and mismanagement".

    On 3 October , the MOSE was activated for the first time in response to a predicted high tide event, preventing some of the low-lying parts of the city in particular the Piazza San Marco from being flooded.

    According to the Köppen climate classification , Venice has a mid-latitude, four season humid subtropical climate Cfa , with cool winters and hot, humid summers.

    The hour average temperature in January is 3. Precipitation is spread relatively evenly throughout the year, and averages millimetres During the most severe winters, the canals and parts of the lagoon can freeze, but with the warming trend of the past 30—40 years, the occurrence has become rarer.

    The city was one of the largest in Europe in the High Middle Ages , with a population of 60, in AD ; 80, in ; and rising up to ,—, in In the mid s the city's population was ,, and by almost , In , there were , people residing in the Comune of Venice the population estimate of , inhabitants includes around 60, in the historic city of Venice Centro storico , , in Terraferma the mainland ; and 31, on other islands in the lagoon ; Minors ages 18 and younger were This compared with the Italian average of The average age of Venice residents was 46 compared to the Italian average of In the five years between and , the population of Venice declined by 0.

    The largest immigrant groups include: 5, 2. Venice is predominantly Roman Catholic Since , the Church of San Giorgio dei Greci in Venice has become the see of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy and Malta and Exarchate of Southern Europe , a Byzantine-rite diocese under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

    There is also a historic Jewish community in Venice. The Venetian Ghetto was the area in which Jews were compelled to live under the Venetian Republic.

    The word ghetto , originally Venetian , is now found in many languages. Shakespeare 's play The Merchant of Venice , written in the late 16th century, features Shylock , a Venetian Jew.

    The first complete and uncensored printed edition of the Talmud was printed in Venice by Daniel Bomberg in During World War II , Jews were rounded up in Venice and deported to extermination camps.

    Since the end of the war, the Jewish population of Venice has declined from to about The whole comune red in the Metropolitan City of Venice.

    Palazzo Corner is the seat of the Metropolitan City of Venice. Palazzo Ferro Fini is the seat of the Regional Council of Veneto.

    The legislative body of the Comune is the City Council Consiglio Comunale , which is composed of 36 councillors elected every five years with a proportional system, contextually to the mayoral elections.

    The executive body is the City Administration Giunta Comunale , composed of 12 assessors nominated and presided over by a directly elected Mayor.

    Venice was governed by centre-left parties from the early s until the s, when the Mayor started to be elected directly.

    Its region, Veneto , has long been a conservative stronghold, with the coalition between the regionalist Lega Nord and the centre-right Forza Italia winning absolute majorities of the electorate in many elections at local, national, and regional levels.

    The current Mayor of Venice is Luigi Brugnaro , a centre-right independent businessman who is currently serving his second term in office.

    Each borough is governed by a council Consiglio and a president, elected every five years. The urban organization is dictated by Article of the Italian Constitution.

    The boroughs have the power to advise the Mayor with nonbinding opinions on a large spectrum of topics environment, construction, public health, local markets and exercise the functions delegated to them by the City Council; in addition, they are supplied with autonomous funding to finance local activities.

    The Historic city of Venice is divided into six areas called sestieri :. The six fingers or phalanges of the ferro on the bow of a gondola represent the six sestieri.

    The sestieri are divided into parishes — initially 70 in , but reduced under Napoleon , and now numbering just These parishes predate the sestieri , which were created in about Each parish exhibited unique characteristics but also belonged to an integrated network.

    Each community chose its own patron saint, staged its own festivals, congregated around its own market center, constructed its own bell towers, and developed its own customs.

    Other islands of the Venetian Lagoon do not form part of any of the sestieri , having historically enjoyed a considerable degree of autonomy.

    Each sestiere has its own house numbering system. Each house has a unique number in the district, from one to several thousand, generally numbered from one corner of the area to another, but not usually in a readily understandable manner.

    Venice's economy has changed throughout history. Although there is little specific information about the earliest years, it is likely that an important source of the city's prosperity was the trade in slaves, captured in central Europe and sold to North Africa and the Levant.

    Venice's location at the head of the Adriatic, and directly south of the terminus of the Brenner Pass over the Alps, would have given it a distinct advantage as a middleman in this important trade.

    In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance , Venice was a major center for commerce and trade, as it controlled a vast sea-empire, and became an extremely wealthy European city and a leader in political and economic affairs.

    Other ports such as Genoa , Pisa , Marseille , Ancona , and Dubrovnik were hardly able to compete with the well organized transportation of pilgrims from Venice.

    This all changed by the 17th century, when Venice's trade empire was taken over by countries such as Portugal, and its importance as a naval power was reduced.

    In the 18th century, then, it became a major agricultural and industrial exporter. The 18th century's biggest industrial complex was the Venice Arsenal , and the Italian Army still uses it today even though some space has been used for major theatrical and cultural productions, and as spaces for art.

    Today, Venice's economy is mainly based on tourism, shipbuilding mainly in Mestre and Porto Marghera , services, trade, and industrial exports.

    The city is facing financial challenges. The declining native population affects the character of the city, as an October National Geographic article pointed out in its subtitle: "Residents are abandoning the city, which is in danger of becoming an overpriced theme park".

    In June , Italy was required to bail out two Venetian banks—the Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca —to prevent their bankruptcies. The Italian government would be responsible for losses from any uncollectible loans from the closed banks.

    Venice is an important destination for tourists who want to see its celebrated art and architecture. By , UNESCO was considering the addition of Venice to its "In-Danger" list, which includes historical ruins in war-torn countries.


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