The city offers other sights beyond its well-known tourist image.
The quintessential city on the water, world-renowned for this distinctive feature, became such because for centuries this very water enabled a prosperous maritime trade with the Middle and Far East, the source of the riches that financed the building of those churches and palaces tourists look at in admiration and wonder today.
The most eminent reminder of the Republic of Venice’s ancient maritime power is still the Arsenal, after well over 8 centuries. The high walls of this ancient factory conceal one of the first, if not The first, example of assembly line production systems and use of standardized parts, which will be resumed in the industrial production of the 20th century.
The galleys, galleass, merchant vessels and all the ships of the powerful Venetian military and commercial fleet were built here, employing up to 5000 workers during busiest times, distributed throughout various production tasks.
Only the exterior great gateway, surrounded by statues of lions and towers guarding the entrance to the internal dock, can be seen at all times, as this remains a restricted military area. However, a sizeable part of the interior can be visited in the occasion of the Biennale of Art and Architecture exhibitions held every other year, which allow visitors to get an idea of this great factory of the past.
Venice has always been a commercial port, as evidenced by the work of many painters displayed in the city’s museums or in the most prestigious galleries and collections around the world. St. Mark’s Basin and the Punta della Dogana are depicted with a large number of moored galleys, sailing ships and other vessels.
The area known as Marittima, in the western part of the city and at the end of the long Zattere promenade, a name that also evokes the boats that moored here, was the commercial maritime terminal until the early decades of the 20th century.
The Marittima area is now used for mooring cruise ships, while the commercial port lies beyond the bridge that connects the city to the mainland, in the area of Porto Marghera, which celebrates the centenary of the start of construction of this important port and industrial area this year.
To celebrate the event, and to remind the younger generations of its importance, there will be an exhibition at the Palazzo Ducale until the end of January to show how it evolved and the daily life that took place within it, using photos and footage of the port along with modern works of art.
The industrial area, used mainly for chemical production, once gave work to almost 15,000 workers. It has been disused over time, whereas the port is still in full operation and is one of the most important ports in Italy and the Upper Adriatic.
Some areas of the city offer a view of some of its large structures, grains silos, oil cisterns, and large cranes unloading containers and even, perchance, a cruise ship in an advanced stage of construction in the shipyards.