History of Venice

Are you going on holiday to Venice in Italy? Would you like to know a bit about the history of Venice? Our historical guide to Venice in Italy gives you the facts & information you’ll want to know.

Although Venice is only a small town in Italy with a population of less than 100,000, it is nevertheless one of the most famous places in Italy. Venice is famous primarily for its canals and romantic gondolas; however, Venice also offers a wide range of sightseeing spots of historical interest due to its long and rich history. Below we’ve highlighted just a few facts pertaining to the history of Venice in Italy.

Early History of Venice

The historical origins of Venice as an inhabited settlement begin in the 5th century at the time of the Barbarian invasion of Italy. The local population of some of the regions in North West Italy fled to the marshlands by the coast of the Adriatic Sea in order to avoid being harmed by the Barbarian invasions. The marshlands proved to be a good natural defence against invading forces so the people settled there permanently and in the 6th century formed a loose federation which laid the foundations of what was later to become the great city state of Venice.

Medieval History of Venice

The history of Venice during medieval times was in many ways the golden era of Venetian history. Prior to the first navigation of the Cape of Good Hope, the only route connecting Europe and Asia passed through the Mediterranean  and Adriatic Seas meaning that Venice was well placed along a major trade route. This had great implications for the economy of Venice which thrived at this time. Venice had become a great maritime power in the Adriatic Sea by the 11th century which meant it was strong enough to levy taxes on all goods passing through the area at that time. The crusades which lasted from the 11th  to the 13th century also ensured a steady flow of human traffic through Venice at this time which brought along with it obvious economic benefits. During the 3rd Crusade, the Duke of Venice actually took a leading role and ransacked Constantinople during the campaign bringing back many treasures to the city of Venice.

Renaissance History of Venice

Although the artistic and architectural benefits of the renaissance in Italy were felt in Venice, the 15th century was a time of economic and military decline for Venice. During the 15th century the power of the Ottoman Turkish Navy began to contest the hegemony that Venice had hitherto enjoyed in the Adriatic Sea and eventually Venice as a maritime power was weakened due to the Ottoman capture of several Adriatic territories that had been under the control of Venice. At the same time the navies of the great European powers had discovered how to navigate to Asia passing the Cape of Good Hope which meant their reliance on the Mediterranean and Venice had diminished.

18th Century History of Venice

The 18th and 19th Centuries were a time of Turmoil for Venice, as were they for much of Europe due to the wars that engulfed the continent.  Venice was briefly controlled by the French and the Austrians before joining a unified Italy in 1866 after some initial resistance.

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