"Where Venice sate in state"

"I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs; A palace and a prison on each hand; I saw from out the wave of her structure's rise As from the stroke of the enchanter's wand: A thousand years their cloudy wings expand Around me, and a dying Glory smiles O'er the far times, when many a subject land Look'd to the winged Lion's marble pines, Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles." (Lord Byron, "Childe Harold" IV,1)

25 March 421: Today, 1.592 years ago at noon, "La Serenissima", the City of Venice, was founded with the dedication of San Giacomo at the islet of Rialto.

What began as a settlement of incolae lacunae ("lagoon dwellers"), refugees from the Migration Period when the Western Roman Empire fell, naming the place after the ancient Veneti led there, according to Livy by the Trojan Antenor, became an increasingly independent Byzantine outpost, a thorn in the flesh of the Lombardic and Frankish kingdoms in Italy, until the mighty merchant families decided, they'd fare better without neither Holy Roman nor Byzantine emperors as the maritime Republic of Venice.

Venice became a dominant naval power, an immensely rich thalassocracy that soon outstripped Constantinople itself until the Age of Discovery shifted Europe's focus away from Mediterranean trade.

However, see Venice and die, as the old saying goes, the "Queen of the Adriatic", the City of Masks and Bridges and Canals and whatnot had become an inspiration all by itself, a cultural breeding place with few equals, with its architecture, customs and the artists Venice bred and the multitudes it inspired.

The painting above is J.M.W. Turner's view of Venice from the Canale della Giudecca (1840).

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