Venice is a place bound in culture. Culture and intrigue are emanating from every corner of this beautiful destination, making it the perfect getaway for lovers of history. The Republic of Venice was founded after the decline of the Roman Empire and lasted for more than a millennium. Today the city attracts visitors from all over the world and is included as a stop on many Italian river cruises.
By choosing an Italian river cruise on the River Po, you’ll pass through Venice as well as Mantua and many other Iconic Italian towns and cities. Before you set off, let’s take a whistle-stop tour through this city’s remarkable history.
The Founding of the City
Veneto was formed as a result of the fleeing of Italian refugees from the Lombards. Refugees sought shelter in the marshlands of the River Po and a settlement was formed, which would gradually become Veneto as we know and love it today.
By 697 the Republic of Veneto was founded. The city formed its own bishopric and obtained an outside ruler appointed by the Byzantine Empire. This same year, the wealthy families of the city placed the first Doge, Anafestud Paulicius, in power. Visitors can still visit the Doge’s palace today, so make sure to pay it a visit as part of your Italian river cruise. The palace is an impressive gothic architectural site and a must-see on any Venice itinerary.
The Growth of Empire
Venice continued to thrive over the centuries as a global trading powerhouse. The city grew wealthy and powerful by engaging in trade with both the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic world. By the twelfth century the region was embroiled in trade wars, which eventually resulted in the formation of a trading empire and the expansion of Venetian territories into the Italian mainland. By this point, the city was at its most powerful.
At its height, goods and wealth flowed in and out of Venice at a remarkable rate. Venetian merchants were extremely wealthy and, by the thirteenth century, a warehouse was built on the Grand Canal adjoining the famous Rialto Bridge. The area surrounding the Rialto (which you can still visit today) was a trading hotspot, where merchants met to buy and sell their goods.
The Decline of the Republic
Remarkably, the Republic lasted for more than a millennium before its demise in the eighteenth century. But the problems started far earlier than this; some historians argue that the decline of the Republic began in 1453 when Constantinople fell to the Turks.
During this period, the community persevered and held itself up through manufacturing, but the city continued to lose trade routes to the competing maritime powers like Britain and Denmark. By 1797 the Venetian Republic had come to an end. By 1860, Venice was incorporated into the new Kingdom of Italy and the population gradually fell.
This city is a history-lovers paradise. Everywhere you walk, you’ll see remnants of a rich and fascinating history and culture. For anyone interested in history, picking a river cruise that stops in Veneto is a must. For the best experience possible book your Italian river cruise with a reputable company with experience in providing high-quality cultural cruises.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive luxury barge holidays. If you're looking for a fantastic Italian river cruise, or cruises to other great destinations, they are the go-to experts. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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