The Songs of the Gondolas: Venice and its Lagoon

Venice, where tourists flock from the world over, is an archipelago made up of a 120 or so islands. The canals connecting the islands, and the gondolas are indispensable to the local way of life. Venice was founded on a shallow lagoon, around the 6th century in the Common Era. Venice reached its height in the 15th century as a key commercial centre. Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice gives an insight into the wealth that came into the city. The city was built unlike any other – inaccessible to horse and carriage … even aristocrats had to walk to move from one place to another. It remains the same even today.

The beauty of Venice is unrivalled. Cruising along the canals, the passing buildings reveal stories of the past. The architecture includes Byzantine, Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque styles. They are all built on the lagoon. The city’s foundations were built by driving poles into the sand and mud, and piling stones on them. The canals are dredged. Dirt and dust must be removed to ensure free passage for the gondolas and for hygiene purposes.

The city’s main square is the Piazza San Marco. The water level rises over the barriers many times a year and floods into the city. The city itself is also said to be slowly sinking. Lovers come to Venice to enjoy the ride on the gondolas, and listen to the whispers of the rippling of the waves under the moonlight.

Venice - photo by Hernán Piñera / Flickr

Sign up to get a Weekly Email from

* indicates required

medievalverse magazine
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons