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St. Mark's Basilica

The city of Venice is a major cultural center in northeastern Italy, For many centuries is was an independent country and a naval powerhouse. It was a major center of learning during the Renaissance. People from Venice are called Venetians.

It was founded after the fall of the Roman Empire by Italian citizens seeking refuge from the invading barbarians in the numerous small islands of the Venetian Lagoon.

The elaborate system of canals developed to navigate the islands became justly famous, as did the spectacular architecture created as Venice increased in wealth and importance.

At its peak, the Venetian empire included many Aegean islands, including Crete and Cyprus, and stretches of the Croatian coastline.

Notable episodes in its history include the Fourth Crusade of 1204, when the blind octagenarian doge Enrico Dandolo led the sack of Constantinople, and the Battle of Lepanto of 1571, when a Venetian-led fleet gave the Ottoman Empire its first major naval defeat and marked the end of Islamic expansion into Christian Europe.

Rialto Gondoliers Venice Italy.jpg

Rialto bridge, Gondoliers.

James Whistler, View of Venice, ca. 1878-1880.