Venice, the capital of the Veneto region, is located in north-eastern Italy in a 550 square kilometer lagoon landscape. When people talk about the city, the first thing that comes to mind is the “Centro Storico”. What is meant is the historic center of the Doge's city, which is almost seven square kilometers in size.
Venice - Palazzi on the Grand Canal
Venice – Area and Population
The rest of Venice, a land and sea area of more than 400 square kilometers, plays a rather minor role. The population was estimated at 1st of January, 2021. Most Venetians live on the mainland, around the lagoon. No more than a quarter of the population lives in the Centro Storico. Life in the old town is expensive, which is why Venice's population statistics there have been showing a downward trend for years.
Venice - Centro Storico
Venice - Centro Storico
Venice's historic center - built on wooden stilts
The Centro Storico was built on more than 100 islands in the lagoon. About 175 canals and 400 bridges connect the islands. The buildings of the old town rest on wooden poles that were rammed into the clay bottom of the lagoon. The buildings above were built in lightweight construction. Hollow, lightweight clay bricks were used as building materials. It is fascinating: the historic center was built when there were neither powerful construction machines nor effective and useful building materials.
Venice - Centro Storico with cruise ships
Venice's history in a nutshell
In many places, "La Serenissima", the "Most Serene", looks like an open-air museum. There are many admirable beautiful squares, impressive churches, palaces and bridges. They testify to the power and inestimable wealth of the former "Republic of Venice". The exchange of goods between western Europe and the eastern Mediterranean region ran through the city until the 16th century. Venice was the central maritime and economic power for more than a thousand years. The city's noble families dominated the trade in food and luxury goods. The most admirable buildings in the city date from this period. After the creation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866, Venice lost its independence and importance.
Venice - Panorama Doge's Palace and Campanile
Venice – a heavily frequented tourist destination
Venice has been a busy tourist destination for more than a century. In 1987 Venice was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. This measure resulted in additional tourist flows. In 2019, the lagoon city counted more than five and a half million foreign tourists who spent at least one night in Venice. The number of overnight stays is ten million and the number of day visitors is around 20 million. On average, 30 million visitors a year can be assumed in the center of Venice.
Venice - Crowds in St. Mark's Square
Venice - a destination for cruise ships
The number of day visitors includes cruise ship guests. The last reliable figures are for 2019. In the year before Corona, almost 1,62 million guests boarded and disembarked from cruise ships at Venice's cruise terminal (source: Port of Venice).
The approach to the cruise terminals has been remarkable so far. It led spectacularly within sight of St. Mark's Square through the Canale di San Marco and then through the Giudecca Canal. For years there was a dispute in Venice about the use or damage of the ships. Rome's government only acted when UNESCO threatened to add the city to its negative list of "World Heritage Sites in Danger".
No longer permitted - Eurodam in the Giudecca Canal
No longer permitted - Eurodam in the Markus basin
Since August 1, 2021, large cruise ships have been banned from entering part of the lagoon. "Large" means: Cruise ships with more than 25.000 gross register tons, a length of more than 180 meters or a height of more than 35 meters are affected by this restriction. The ban also applies to ships that do not meet emission standards. - And from August 1, 2021, cruise ships will no longer be allowed to pass through the Canale di San Marco and the Giudecca Canal. Cruise ships that are considered sustainable or below the scale are permitted to call at Venice's cruise terminal. Large ships are diverted to the mainland in Venice's Marghera district. Container ships and tankers have docked there so far. The Italian Ministry of Infrastructure has pledged more than 150 million euros to invest in Marghera's port.
The time cruise passengers can spend in one place is generally limited. We recommend researching Venice's top sights before you travel. We report below which ones are involved Venice Sights.
Update February 2022