Venice is a city in north east Italy known for its canals and its role in the Renaissance. Many a tourist has taken a ride in a gondola and visited San Marco Square with its famous cathedral. Venice is also famous for its richly ornate Venetian glass.
Venice is a city where most people traverse the city either by walking or by the many canals and water ways. Instead of your regular buses on city streets, Venice has motorized water buses. The routes are well known by the locals and it is the main mode of transportation. However, the gondolas are still a favorite of tourists. They are not meant to be a replacement for the water buses but more like a carriage ride on the water. They are richly furnished with crushed velvet seats and Persian rugs. They are also used for weddings, funerals and other kinds of ceremonies. There is a smaller but less known Sandolo which can also have a singing driver. There are 177 canals that the water buses or the gondolas can take you through connecting 117 islands through the area.
The Basilica di San Marco was the personal chapel for the Doges for most of its history but in it became what is known as the Cathedral of Venice. This Cathedral is ornate, Gothic and spectacular. It attracts many tourists throughout the year. It is adorned with Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic art and it sports many details from antiquity to the middle ages. Once inside it is hard to miss the gilded mosaics which span 8000 square meters of the vault and copulas.
The floor of San Marco is equally impressive. It is from the 12th century and is a mosaic of marble in animal designs and geometric patterns. A red medallion on the floor inside the main door marks a holy spot. It is where in 1177 the Doge arranged the reconciliation between Barbarossa, who was the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope.
The altar piece is the Pala d’Oro (Pall of Gold) and is a long panel of gold adorned with jewels. It was commissioned in 976 and added onto over time to create its current ornate beauty. It is Byzantine in origin. It is rumored that Napoleon stole some of its jewels but as an tourists can see he left plenty behind.
This cathedral is probably the most fantastic of cathedrals second only to the Vatican in all of Europe.
Another attraction when visiting Venice is actually a place called Murano where the famed Venetian glass is made. This art of glass blowing actually came from the middle east and the far east. Venice had been trading with these areas of the world for centuries and thus had “picked” up this art of glass blowing. The art form made its way to Murano due to the risk of fire. That way the main island of Venice was not put at risk from all the hot furnaces that had to be employed in making the glass. In modern times these factories/museums are not far from the beaten path and are a definite “must see” when visiting Venice.
Venice is a unique city that attracts many tourists not only for its canals and different mode of transportation but also for its formidable role in the Renaissance. A visit to Venice is not complete without touring the Basilica di San Marco and making a side trip to Murano to capture a picture or two of the famous glass blowers of Venetian Glass.