Great legacies Children

City of canals

Go for the Gondola : The Grand Canal.

Go for the Gondola : The Grand Canal.   | Photo Credit: Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Picturesque, with boats to navigate the city, Venice is a masterpiece that seems to be straight out of a picture postcard

In 452 AD, the Huns went on a rampage, plundering and devastating Padua and other mainland areas in north east Italy. The inhabitants of Padua and Auileja fled to the tiny islands in the lagoon of Venice. Gradually, over the years, they realised the security and protection that the islands gave them and decided to make it their permanent home.

Venice was built over 118 islands in a lagoon that covered 50,000 km. Its strategic position at the head of the Adriatic made Venetian naval and commercial power almost invulnerable. Under continuous threat, the state of Venice furiously defended itself from its competitors in trade, like the Arabs, the Genoese and the Ottoman Turks. This made them stronger and more powerful, and thus, Venice emerged as as one of the greatest capitals of the medieval world.

In the Middle Ages, soil was dredged to raise the marshy ground above the tides. The canals that resulted from this, paved the way for a nautical culture, which became a central point of it’s economy. It was used to transport goods and people. There are 400 bridges over these maze of canals and it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Some of the names by which this is city is called: Floating City, City of Masks, City of Bridges and the City of Canals.

Tourists’ haven

The classic Venetian boats that ply through these canals are known as the gondola, and the boatman is the gondolier. Today, it is mainly used for tourists, weddings, funerals and other ceremonies. It is an eco-friendly mode of transport.

The city continues to be a world wonder because of the interaction of its people with the natural habitat of their lagoon landscape, despite being flooded over periodically. Another factor lies in the fact that Venice has brought out the technical and creative skills of the Middle Ages that stand good even today.

Venice boasts of artistic achievements, especially in its monuments. Their style of architecture influenced many countries in Europe. Situated on the Adriatic Sea, Venice traded extensively with the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim world. By the late 13th century, Venice was the most prosperous city in all of Europe.

Another special factor was that Venice retained its watery boundaries over the years despite natural, man-made and climatic changes. Between autumn and early spring, the city is often threatened by flood tides pushing in from the Adriatic. Six hundred years ago, Venetians protected themselves from land-based attacks by diverting all the major rivers flowing into the lagoon and thus preventing sediment from filling the area around the city. This created an ever-deeper lagoon environment.

Every effort has been made to protect and conserve this fragile ecosystem. Mobile flood gates are used to temporarily isolate the lagoon from the sea in times of flood. It is also a walking city. Automobiles are banned and you can walk to any part of the city — along the canal banks, on the paved streets and across its innumerable bridges.

From time immemorial, Venice has been known for its beautiful and colourful glass work. The island of Murano is home to the community of glass blowers.

Some famous offsprings of this city are Antonio Vivaldi and the explorer, Marco Polo.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 7:41:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/city-of-canals/article28342696.ece

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