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A Venetian Chronology


The Veneti tribe leave the Italian mainland for the islands to escape successive waves of barbarian invaders. The islands form part of the Byzantine Empire.

421: The legendary founding of Venice. The real date of the city’s foundation is probably over a century later.

446: The Veneti meet at Grado and establish the rule of a tribune.

568: Torcello founded.


Early: The basilica of S. Maria Assunta is built at Torcello.

697: The first doge of Venice, Paoluccio Anafesto, is elected by the people.


Byzantine domination of northern Italy is ended by barbarian invasions.


Beginning: The original palace of the doge is constructed in the area now known as Saint Mark’s Square.

810: Pepin unsuccessfully attempts to claim the islands for the Frankish empire.

825: The area of Saint Mark’s Square is completed.

828: The body of Saint Mark is brought from Alexandria to Venice. Saint Mark replaces Saint Theodore as patron of the city.


900: The lagoons are fortified.

928: The first mention of a Venetian glass-maker.


End: Venice establishes itself as an autonomous state and a maritime republic. It develops into a strong naval power and builds an empire in the East, seizing the eastern shores of the Adriatic before 1200, and capturing many of the islands in the Aegean, including Cyprus and Crete.

The Venetian Carnival is instituted.


1100: Venice participates in the First Crusade.

Early: The Arsenal is constructed.

1167: The first public loans are issued in Venice.

1171: Two great columns, one surmounted by Saint Theodore and the other by a lion, are erected in Saint Mark’s Square.

1178: Venice takes control of the Brenner Pass from Verona, and establishes an extensive empire on the Italian mainland or terra firma over the next four centuries.

Late: The earliest surviving mention of a gondola.

The great council, comprised exclusively of aristocratic families, is established. It elects the doge and the senate.


1203–4: Venice plays a major role in the assault and sacking of Constantinople. It brings home the four horses of the triumphal Quadriga. Venice dominates trade throughout the Byzantine Empire.

1229: Venetian laws are codified.

1242: The first jousts are recorded in Saint Mark’s Square.

1270: The earliest reference to private banks.

1284–5: The first gold ducat is issued; the Mint is founded.

1298: The imprisoned Marco Polo narrates his voyages in foreign lands to an amanuensis.


1310: The judicial committee known as the council of ten is created. It is elected by the senate, and made permanent in 1335.

1348: Plague in the city.

1380: The long war between Venice and Genoa, which had continued intermittently for a century, ends with a Venetian victory.


Venice is at the height of its military and naval power.


1421: The construction of the Ca d’Oro begins.

1422: The old palace of the doge is replaced by a Renaissance palace in Saint Mark’s Square.

1462: War breaks out between the Venetian and Turkish empires; it ends in 1479 when the Venetians sue for peace. This signals the beginning of the end of Venetian power in the East. Gradually Venice ceases to dominate trade in the area.

1495: The publisher Aldus Manutius establishes a workshop in Venice for the production of texts in Greek, Latin and Hebrew.


1516: The Jewish ghetto is established in Canareggio.

1519: The birth of Tintoretto.

1527: After the sack of Rome by barbarian invaders, Venice offers a haven to countless Roman artists and intellectuals.

1527: Jacopo Sansovino, a refugee from Rome, is appointed public architect. He designs the Mint, the Library, the loggia of the campanile, and part of the Rialto market. He also transforms Saint Mark’s Square into a classical piazza.

1565: The first European theatre, built specifically for the production of plays, is constructed in Venice.

1570: Venice loses Cyprus to the Turks.

1585: Beginning of the construction of the Rialto bridge.


1618: The failure of the “Spanish Plot” to destroy many important political buildings in the city.

1637: The world’s first public opera house is created in Venice.

1669: Venice loses Crete to the Turks.

1678: Vivaldi is born.

1696: Tiepolo is born.


Venice becomes the city of art and pleasure.

1725: Casanova is born.

1774: The greatest Venetian gambling house is closed by public order.

1797: Venice falls to Napoleon, who hands the city over to the Austrians. The doge is deposed and the Venetian republic ceases to exist.


1805: Napoleon defeats the Austrians and reclaims the city.

1814: The Austrians reclaim Venice.

1848: The Venetians oust the Austrians from the city and re-establish the republic of Venice.

1849: The Austrians reoccupy the city and the republic falls.

1854: The Accademia Bridge is constructed.

1866: The Austrians withdraw from Venice and the city becomes part of the newly established kingdom of Italy.

End: The Lido becomes a popular beach resort.

1895: The first international exhibition is organised. It soon becomes known as the “Biennale.”


1902: The campanile of Saint Mark’s Square falls.

1917: Venice, as part of the Italian alliance with Britain and Russia in the

First World War, is once again menaced by Austrian forces.

1943: German forces take over the city.

1966: The year of the great flood.

1996: Venice’s most famous opera house, La Fenice, burns down.

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