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Venice (Italy)


Venice (Italian: Venezia, Venetian: Venesia) is a city in northern Italy known both for tourism and for industry, with a population of 270,367 (census estimate 1 January 2009).

A port in the Adriatic Sea (turnover of goods over 21 million tons a year); the Marco Polo International Airport. The historical center is built on an archipelago of 118 islands formed by 177 canals in a shallow lagoon. The islands on which the city is built are connected by 455 bridges (including Rialto and the so called “Bridge of the sighs”, both built in late XVI century).

Venice’s economy is mainly based on tourism, shipbuilding (mainly done in the neighboring cities of Mestre and Porto Marghera), services, trade and industrial exports. Murano glass production in Murano and lace production in Burano are also highly important to the economy. A university, a conservatory (1916). Museums (including Gallery of the Academy of art). The first Opera Theatre for general public, “Fenice” opera theatre (1792).

Venice is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world, due to the city being one of the world’s greatest and most beautiful cities of art. In the old centre, the canals serve the function of roads, and almost every form of transport is on water or on foot. Gondolas and motorized water boats are used. A settlement since V century, a city since the beginning of IX century. From IX – X till XVI century Venice was a large center of trade and commerce between Western Europe and the East. In the Middle Ages and until 1797 it was a Republic headed by a Doge that controlled a big territory. In 1797 – 1805 and 1815 – 1866 Venice is part of Austria. Along the canals and narrow curved streets there are richly decorated churches and palaces. On the central San-Marco square there are a cathedral (IX – XV centuries), The Doge’s Palace (XIV – XVI century), the Old San Marco library (XVI century), the buildings of religious congregations, monasteries. The city with its lagoon is on UNESCO’s world heritage list.

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 the aquifer was the cause. This sinking process has slowed markedly since artesian wells were banned in the 1960s.

The name is derived from the ancient tribe of Veneti that inhabited the region in Roman times. However, there was no settlement in the lagoon at the time. People began to inhabit the Venetian lagoon after invasions of Barbarians – Huns and Lombards – who passed through this area in V-VI centuries and devastated the cities on the continent, the biggest of which was Aquileia. A town began to form on the islands of Venetian lagoon in the second half of VI century. The center of the settlement was originally on Malamocco and Torcello islands but starting from VIII century it began to transfer to its today’s position. In VII century the islands by an initiative of Byzantium, part of which they officially were, were united under the authority of one ruler – the Doge. The first Doge Paolo Lucio Anafesto was elected in 697 – this fact is not confirmed by any documents – and replaced Byzantine Magister militum who ruled the entire province. From the middle of VIII century the Doge was elected in Venice; the result of the election did not have to be approved of by the Byzantine Emperor. The first election of the Doge proved by historians took place in 727; altogether throughout the history of the city 120 Doges were elected. The last one – Ludovico Manin – abdicated the throne in 1802.

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