Venice (Italian: Venezia) is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world for its art and architecture. The city has an average of 50,000 visitors a day, often regarded as one of the most beautiful cities of the world. This sanctuary on a lagoon is virtually the same as it was 600 years ago which adds to its fascinating character. It comprises a group of 117 small islands that are separated by 177 canals and linked by 409 bridges. These are located on the Venetian Lagoon which stretches along shoreline, between the mouths of the Po and the Piave Rivers. The lagoon and part of the city are listed as World Heritage Site.
The buildings of Venice are constructed on closely spaced wooden piles. Most of these piles are still intact after centuries of submersion. The foundations rest on plates of Istrian limestone placed on top of the piles and building of brick or stone sit above these footings. Submerged by water, in oxygen- poor conditions, wood does not decay as rapidly as on the surface. Most of these piles were made from trunks for alder trees, a wood noted of its water resistance. The alder came from Slovenia and Croatia.
Beyond the road and rail land entrances at the northern edge of the city, transportation within the city remains (as it was centuries ago) entirely on water or on foot. Venice is Europe’s largest urban car-free area, a city functioning entirely without motor cars and trucks.
Venice has a rich and diverse architectural style, the most famous of which is the Gothic style. Venetian Gothic architecture is a style combining the use of Gothic lancet arch with Byzantine and Ottoman influences. This style originated in the 14th century Venice, where the confluence of Byzantine style from Constantinople met Arab influence from Moorish Spain.
The banks of the Grand Canal are lined with more than 170 buildings, most of which belongs to the 13th to 18th century and demonstrate the art created by the Republic of Venice. The noble Venetian families face huge expenses to show off their richness in suitable palazzos. A visit to Venice is incomplete without a ride through the Grand Canal.
Piazza San Marco (English: St. Mark’s Square) is the principal public square of Venice, where it is generally known just as “la Piazza” (The Square). The square is dominated at its eastern end by the great church of St. Mark along with a bunch of few other historic buildings including the Doge’s Palace (Italian: Palazzo Ducale) and Palazzo Patriarcale, the seat of the Patriarch of Venice. Opposite to this, standing free in the Piazza, is the Campanile of St Mark’s church (Italian: Campanile di San Marco), the most recognizable symbols of the city of Venice. The tower is 98.6 meters tall. The tower is capped by a pyramidal spire, at the top of which sits a golden weathervane in the form of the archangel Gabriel. The tower reached its present form in 1514.
The classical Venetian boat is the gondola, although it is now mostly used for tourists, weddings, funerals or for ceremonies. Many gondolas are lushly fitted with velvet seats and Persian rugs. Less well-known is the smaller sandolo. At the front of each gondola that works in the city, there is a large piece of metal called the fero (iron). Its shape has evolved through centuries, as documented in well-known paintings. Its form, topped by a likeness of the Duke’s hat, become gradually standardized, and was then fixed by local law.
Large luxury cruise liners are a familiar scene in Venice. The city relies heavily on cruise business. It is estimated that cruise ship passengers spend more than 150 million euros annually in the city.