Venice is a unique artistic achievement. The city is built on 118 small islands and seems to float on the waters of the lagoon. The influence of Venice on the development of architecture and monumental arts has been considerable. Venice possesses an incomparable series of architectural ensembles illustrating the age of its splendour. It presents a complete typology whose exemplary value goes hand-in-hand with the outstanding character of an urban setting which had to adapt to the special requirements of the site.
In this lagoon, nature and history have been so closely linked since the 5th century AD when Venetian populations, to escape barbarian raids, found refuge on the sandy islands of Torcello, Iesolo and Malamocco. These temporary settlements gradually became permanent and the initial refuge of the land-dwelling peasants and fishermen became a maritime power. The small island of Rialto was chosen as the headquarters of the new city.
In AD 1000, Venice controlled the Dalmatian coast and in 1112 a trading market was founded in the Levantine port of Sidon. The year 1204 saw Venice allied with the Crusaders to capture Constantinople. The abundant booty brought back on that occasion, including the bronzes horses of St Mark's, is only the more spectacular part of the loot from Byzantium that the Doge Enrico Dàndolo shared with his allies.
Under the Doge, a maritime empire of unequalled power extended over the entire length of Read more about this site on the UNESCO World Heritage website.