Venice, the “floating city”

Venice, the “floating city”

Venice, a beautiful Italian city “floating” on the sea, is one of the most interesting and lovely places on the planet. For quite a long time its romantic charms remain and has reigned as the “Queen of the Adriatic”.

Venice is the only city on earth that is built on an archipelago of 122 islands formed by 177 canals in a shallow lagoon and connected by 455 bridges.

Wondering how the buildings are constructed in Venice? Well, they are sitting on top of closely-spaced wood piles that don’t decay under water rather they become petrified and they last.

The easiest and maybe the best way to travel to Venice from Rome is by train. The capital city of Rome is only about 3.5 hours away.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Venice is a city of striking palaces, beautiful churches and public buildings. Its immense waterway is the Grand Canal, considered as Venice’s main boulevard, which “divides and yet unites the city with its sinuous path shaped like a liquid S and forms the principal artery” of the city leading to the heart of Venice, the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark;s Square) which is dominated by the Basilica San Marco, the Doge’s Palace and the Campanile (Clock Tower).

Now considered as the city’s principal symbol, the Piazza San Marco used to be the centre of political and religious activities of the Venetian Republic. You could spend the whole day in the area and enjoy its sights and sounds. The square is filled with people, pigeons and music from morning until nighttime. Feeding the pigeons that flock to the square with grains of corn which you could purchase from the vendors is a popular activity among the tourists and locals alike.

Do you know that St. Mark’s Square being the lowest point in Venice is quite often flooded during the “acqua alta” (high tide) when the water of the lagoon and the canals surge up into the square or even after a heavy rain? So be prepared – you might end up wearing rubber boots instead of walking shoes!

Worth a visit is the spectacular Basilica San Marco – the main cathedral church of Venice which is adjacent and connected to another famous building, the Doge’s Palace. With magnificent facade and oriental-looking copulas, the Basilica has a cavernous interior gilded with Byzantine mosaic covering every inch of both the ceiling and the pavement illustrating the tales of St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice, as well as the scenes of the Old and New Testament. Four gilded horses adorn the upper tier of the cathedral.

The Doge’s Palace (also known as the Ducal Palace), used to be the residence of the early Venetian rulers known as “Doge” and now preserved as a museum, is in the form of a fortified castle and moat with four square towers and merlin walls. The palace is the largest civic building in the city.

The Campanile (Clock Tower) is an imposing building with the Venetian winged-lion guarding the square. On top is a bell with two giant blackened bronze figures who strike the bell on the hour drawing the curiosity of the numerous visitors.

We’ll end up our tour of Venice in the next issue.