The cultural and historical influence of Venice from the Middle Ages to present day is one of astonishing strength and beauty.
Until 1797 Venice was its own autonomous republic in the Adriatic with a rich antiquity, its own language, and dominance over commerce and trade. In addition, it was a leader in art, music, and culture of the times.
For much of its time as an independent republic, Venice affirmed its dominance over the Adriatic.
There was a strong, political assertion due to the power of its fleet. Its economic strength allowed this nation to suppress the many attempts to siege the city, to force neighboring weak states into subservience, and allowed Venice to gain special favor with the powerful Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire.
During the Middle Ages Venice began to take on its present form with the building of canals, bridges, and stone houses to connect over 100 small islands that make up the area. This unique city built on water is now a World Heritage Site.
Through this period, the flow of trade between Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean was firmly under the control of the Republic of Venezia.
Venice’s Rich History – Architecture, Art and Music
The allure of Venice is felt throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and examples of Venetian architecture can be seen as far away as the Greek Islands. The Venetians created their gothic style with influence from the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. The famous Doge’s Palace exemplifies this the most.
Well into the 15th century, Venice continued to assert its supremacy over all things nautical. The strong and powerful Venetian fleet played a major role throughout the crusades, culminating in the sacking of Constantinople (now Istanbul) in the 12th century as restitution for the use of its vessels. The four bronze horses sitting on St. Mark's Basilica were taken as payment for its role in the Fourth Crusade.
The Venetian glass industry also gained esteem in part due to the fall of Constantinople. Byzantine craftsmen fled to Venice, and nearby Murano, and thus further inspired and refined the Venetian traditions. Today, colorful and elaborate Venetian art draws thousands of tourists from around the world to the glass-making center in Murano.
The contribution of Venice to the Baroque period of classical music is exemplified by Venice-born composer Antonio Vivaldi. The Chiesa di San Maurizio (Church of San Maurizo) houses an excellent museum, the Museo della Musica, which displays stringed instruments from as far back as 700AD. Vivaldi enthusiasts should also make the trek to the Vivaldi Museum in the Pieta Church.
More Than a City in Italy
Though its military and economic valor slowly declined, Venice has remained one of the most important European centers for art, architecture, and culture. Gliding through its canals and sipping coffee in its market squares, you can feel how its rich heritage continues to transform the world today.