50 Facts About Venice

When it comes to romantic, historic, and gorgeous cities of the world, Venice tops the list. It’s a small city in Italy known for its canals, gondolas, its magnificent architecture and spectacular sceneries. But most importantly, it’s a revelation of a genius: a grand city built on mud and sand in a forbidding landscape. But what else do you know about this “Floating City”? Read on to learn 50 facts about Venice.

Fact 1: Venice is one of the 118 flat islands in the northeast region of Italy.

  • Italy’s most prized destination can be found on the northeastern Mediterranean (aka the Adriatic Sea). Venice is a magical city that lies in an archipelago far off the Veneto Coast. 

Fact 2: Venice was founded by early settlers during 402 A.D. 

  • These ancestors escaped the barbarian invasions of the Huns, led by Attila. Because of their need for more space to live, they dug hundreds of canals and shored up the banks with wood pilings. 

Fact 3: Venice was built and expanded approximately 1500 years ago.

  • This unique city built on water is around 519 years old! It took 100,000 palafittes driven into the mud to lay a solid foundation for the magnificent buildings. It continued to thrive and expand through the ages, becoming the major city that it is today.

Fact 4: Venice is a city built on wooden stilts.

  • These wooden stilts were originally used as the foundations for the fishermen’s houses. However, this architectural style evolved and was used to support the entire city, especially as it expanded with time.

Fact 5: Many buildings in Venice are still standing on 1000-year-old piles of wood!

  • These woods were submerged underwater. Hence, they didn’t easily rot and continue to give the city the solid foundation it needs even up until this day.

Fact 6: Over 417 foot-bridges and 177 boat canals connect the city to make it easily accessible to the local populace. 

  • The “Queen City of Adriatic” is geographically unique. It is a magical floating city that’s built by setting wood pilings on the 118 submerged islands in the Northern part of the Adriatic Sea.

Fact 7: Venice is the 11th most populated city in Italy. Venice’s 2019 population is estimated to be 636,244.

  • Rome, Venice’s equally beautiful sister and most populated city in Italy, has a populace of over 2 million. It’s 10 times the volume of inhabitants in Venice!

Fact 8: There are approximately 20 million tourists visiting Venice every year.

  • Tourism is one of the main industries in this “Floating City”. It is how the city has flourished for decades. There are more tourists in Venice than residents, and the number of guests annually only increases as each year passes.

Fact 9: The locals speak 2 languages: Italian and Venetian.

  • If you know how to speak any or both of these languages, you’ll do OK on your trip to Venice. Nevertheless, some residents can understand a bit of the English language, and can say common phrases and greetings.

Fact 10: Venice is the capital of Italy’s Veneto region.

  •  The “La Dominante” has a total area of 160 square miles. It has only 3 feet of elevation.

Fact 11: There are no roads and cars in Venice!

  • One of the main reasons why Venice is a tourist hot spot is because it has a refreshing landscape and way of life. Unlike in other cities around the world that are accustomed to roads and cars, Venice only has canals and gondolas!

Fact 12: There are 177 canals in Venice.

  • The “Queen of the Adriatic” has a total of 177 canals. These canals form the water-traffic corridors in the city.

Fact 13: The biggest canal in Venice is the Grand Canal.

  • The Grand Canal is 3.8 km (2.4 mi) long, and 30 to 90 m (98 to 295 ft) wide, with an average depth of 5 metres (16 feet). It is one of the major water-traffic corridors in the city.

Fact 14: There are 170 buildings lining the Grand Canal.

  • The “Canalasso“ as known by the Venetians, is the most important waterway in Venice. Being the biggest and longest canal in the city, it is able to accommodate 170 buildings in its stretch!

Fact 15: There’s a famous Venetian tradition that says kissing while passing under a bridge locks your fate with your lover.

  • You’ll see tons of couples kissing while their gondola rides underneath a bridge. That’s because Venetian ancestors believe that doing so makes you and your lover remain in love forever. 

Fact 16: Venice has around 400 working gondolas. 

  • Gondolas are traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boats. They are Venice’s iconic boats that are used to transport people around the city. The earliest recorded use of a gondola can be traced back to the 11th century.

Fact 17: Gondolas were painted black in the 16th century.  

  • Venetian families spent so much time and money beautifying their own boats, competing with other families on who had the most luxurious gondolas. On the 8th of October 1562, the Venetian Senate decided to put an end to this “fever” with a law requiring all gondolas to have the same color: black.

Fact 18: Black gondolas are the most famous Venetian boats. 

  • Venetian gondolas are popular for being black boats. These are used for work and for touring the narrow canals of the city.

Fact 19: There are over 100+ gondolas that exist in many other colors! 

  • All work gondolas are black. Just think of taxis painted in yellow. But other gondolas that exist for leisure are painted in many other colors.

Fact 20: Modern gondolas have a uniform design.

  • Modern gondolas are handmade. All weigh 700kg, have 280 component pieces, and use 8 types of wood, such as oak, elm, lime, larch, fir, cherry, walnut, and mahogany. It takes about 2 months to create a gondola.

Fact 21: Venetian gondolas are known globally for their unique structure. An average length is 10.85 m, a width of 1.40 m, and a weight of about 350 kg.

  • It has an asymmetrical shape. It is created specifically to allow the gondolier to row with less effort. 

Fact 22: Only 3 to 4 gondolier licenses are issued annually. 

  • Becoming a gondolier in Venice is not as easy as getting your driver’s license. Applicants must pass a rigorous exam, then finish an extensive training course before becoming a licensed gondolier. There are only 400 licensed gondolas operating in Venice today.

Fact 23: Giorgia Boscolo became Venice’s first official female gondolier.

  • Who says a girl can’t be a gondolier? In August 2010, Giorgia Boscolo made history. She became the first woman to successfully pass the gondolier’s tedious licensing procedure.

Fact 24: Venice has 417 bridges. 

  • 345 of these bridges are used by the public, while the remaining 72 bridges are privately owned and utilized. 

Fact 25: Most of Venice’s bridges don’t have steps.

  • Although modern bridges have built-in steps and walkways, older ones only have plain passages because they were built at a time when horses were used for transportation.

Fact 26: Many Venetian bridges are centuries old.

  • Ironically, of the 4 major bridges across the Grand Canal, the newest one is only a few years old, and is already beginning to decay. 

Fact 27: One of the world’s narrowest streets is in Venice and is only 53 cm wide.

  • Venice has many narrow streets, but “Calletta” is the most tapered of all. Imagine passing through a street with 53 cm of space! That’s just as wide as your average fridge freezer!

Fact 28: The world-famous San Marco bell tower is in Venice, Italy.

  • It is one of the ancient structures in Venice, having been built in the 1100s. It was rebuilt in the 1900s after it collapsed. Many people suggest that you need to go to the tower to have the best view of the Floating City. 

Fact 29: Venice’s symbol is the winged lion of Saint Mark.

  • The Lion of Venice is an ancient bronze winged lion sculpture. It is located in the Piazza San Marco of Venice, Italy. Being an antique and unique structure, this became the city’s symbol — as well as one of its patron saints, St Mark — after its arrival there in the 12th century.

Fact 30: Venice’s first public casino opened in 1683.

  • If Las Vegas is the city that holds the highest concentration of casinos in the world, Venice is the city that is home to the oldest casino in Europe.

Fact 31: Venice casinos are strict on dress codes.

  • Men must wear a jacket. If you don’t have one, you can hire a jacket for free at the casino. Women, on the other hand, have to avoid casual clothes, especially short skirts.

Fact 32: Ca’ Vendramin Calergi (the Venice Casino) was developed in the 15th century.

  • It was designed by Mauro Codussi in the late 15th century, upon the request of a wealthy family. It’s one of the historic landmarks in Venice, and it’s one of the most magnificent palaces facing the Grand Canal.

Fact 33: Venice has more than 450 palaces.

  • Popular for its luxurious grandeur, Venice is the home of around 450 palaces. The city is filled with some of the world’s most beautiful palaces, creating that one-of-a-kind appeal of Venice’s architectural finery. 

Fact 34: The Doge Palace in Venice has an interesting Venetian Gothic style.

  • It’s hard to miss the Doge Palace because of its structure that’s purely gothic. It is a big, pink building topped with a line of white spires.

Fact 35: It took a century and a half to finish the Doge Palace.

  • This is partly because fires were a constant threat in the city and often made reconstruction necessary. 

Fact 36: The Doge Palace was reconstructed and renovated several times.

  • Indeed, it is a historical site where you can see the clash of old, new, and obsolete architecture. The palace withstood several fires and ground failures. Its first reconstruction happened in the 10th century. Succeeding restoration took in 1340, 1424, 1438, 1547, and 1577. The structure received an overall restoration in the 19th century because it started decaying.

Fact 37: There’s a spot inside the Doge Palace that used to be a place of torture for convicts.

  • There’s a small door beyond the elegant staircase where life sentences and tortures were acted out. Tourists are strictly forbidden to enter this area.

Fact 38: The Bridge of Sighs is the only bridge in the world that connects a palace and a prison.

  • Perhaps, it’s the most famous bridge in Venice because of its interesting history. It’s a small bridge where only criminals, members of the court, and officers were allowed to pass over.

Fact 39: Venice is home to some of the world’s most iconic people.

  • Some of these include the playwright and famous lover Giacomo Casanova, the explorer Marco Polo, and composer Antonio Vivaldi.

Fact 40: Ca’Dario is considered as the “cursed palace” in Venice.

  • It is a palazzo, with a majestic Venetian Renaissance architecture set along the Grand Canal. It is a famous eerie location in Venice because lots of unexplained deaths have happened in this palace since the building’s conception in 1847.

Fact 41: A famous bass guitarist died in Ca’Dairo.

  • The latest victim of the curse in Ca’Dairo is John Entwistle. He was a famous bass guitarist of the band, “The Who”. Mr. Entwistle was leasing the palace when he was found dead in 2002.

Fact 42: There are 500 hidden gardens in Venice.

  • If you’ll stroll around Venice, there are almost no green areas in the city. That’s because they’re kept hidden behind high walls, completely inaccessible to tourists.

Fact 43: The “City of Water” is sinking at a rate of 1 to 2 millimeters each year.

  • At a rate of 0.04 to 0.08 inches a year, the lagoon city could sink up to 3.2 inches by 2032. It’s for this reason why people also call it the “City of Water” or the “Sinking City”.

Fact 44: ‘Venice flooding’ happens around 4 times per year. 

  • There is periodic flooding in the city which affects residents greatly! The frequency of these floods is also increasing and the water is becoming more rampant. 

Fact 45: The weight of the city is one reason why Venice is sinking.

  • While global warming and other natural phenomena can explain Venice’s sinking hiatus, the city started sinking the moment it was built. Having been built on mud and dirt, the weight of the growing city has now started to push down, thus sinking the city. 

Fact 46: A phenomenon called “Acqua Alta” also contributes to the flooding of Venice.

  • Acqua alta is a natural event that has happened for centuries. It is when high tides, caused by the moon’s gravitational pull, coincide with a powerful scirocco, a warm wind blowing across the Mediterranean, that pushes water from the Adriatic into the Venetian lagoon. Moveable barriers have been installed across the town in hopes of alleviating the flood problem.

Fact 47: Venice has sunk 9 inches over the past 100 years.

  • With global warming causing sea levels to rise, some experts warn the people of Venice that more water will eventually cover the Adriatic coastline and Venice city by 2100.

Fact 48: The resident population in Venice is slowly declining.

  • More than 120,000 people called Venice home years ago. Today, there are only about 55,000 people living in the City of Water. By 2030, some demographers predict, there will be no more full-time residents.

Fact 49: Venice’s costly lifestyle creates de-population in the city.

  • Residents decided to leave “home”, primarily because of the high cost of living in Venice. Venice’s sinking and tourism problems are also important contributing factors in the city’s population decline over the years.

Fact 50: Some experts believe that Venice will become a tourist park by 2030.

  • With the decline in population over the last 50 years, experts predict that the famous Floating City will not be a place of residence anymore, but a place of tourism in the future.

References: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4, Link 5, Link 6, Link 7, Link 8

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