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A Garden in Venice

Garden art & lifestyle

Capturing Venetian history in a time lapse: Interpreting the view from the Campanile

The Campanile acts as "needle" or angle point of the "Venetian compass": make out the four quadrants of the Venetian History Compass, with regard to history and self-sufficient gardening in the lagoon, of course
A thoughtful trip up to the top of the Campanile & retracing Venetian history: You will see, each part of Venice and lagoon island had a function to fulfill and role to play in history.
The shade of the Campanile reminds me of a compass needle .. it was rebuilt  following the collapse of its predecessor in 1902 (finished in 1912), based on building plans from 1514. 
From the outlook platform on top of the Campanile and its four panoramic windows (in a clockwise direction, North, East, South and West), you get the full story of the history of Venice.
There is so much more to see than the simply the sights pointed out on the panoramic maps of the town and lagoon fixed below the window outlook posts .. The elevator ride up to this outlook platform just below the rooftop where the bells have been fixed (the campanile itself is 98.6 meters high) does not take longer than 1 minute.
The five bells will be just above you ..amongst them is the marangona, the biggest bell that was saved when the Campanile collapsed in 1902 (read my blog post here).
South-East corner: Remember to take up your binoculars, the view is worth it. In 1609, Gallileo Galilei presented his new invention, the binocular, to the Doge
Start your time lapse journey through Venetian history at the Panoramic Window facing North:
North: "Panorama Nord" is described by these maps, but for now, take a look back into history, which starts here right now in the Northern Quadrant
Panorama Nord: The beginnings of our town and lagoon settlements (300 - 1200 AD)
Look back in time, towards the beginnings of our town: From this window, you see the northern fringe of the lagoon, protected by the hills turning mountains (Dolomiti) in the backgrund. The first settlers arrived in the northern part of the lagoon, crossing over to reach the Northern Islands, in particular Torcello, but also Santa Cristina and Ammiana. These two are islands of which we can still see traces, but the bigger parts have literally disappeared under water (click here to read my blog post on Atlantis in Laguna). Here is also the area where the first big convents and monastery gardens were created, growing fruit, vegetables and herbs (e.g., convents San Francesco del Deserto on its island, San Francesco della Vigna and San Zanipolo on the northern fringe of what was to become Venice town). Also, in Venice, the church of Santa Maria Formosa can be viewed in this quadrant, the area around the church is very old and is connected to one of the oldest festivities in town (La Festa delle Marie). And of course, Murano can be seen, with its glass industry that moved there from Venice, where it had become too dangerous, at the end of the 12th century. 
North: View towards the Northern islands of the lagoon, but also of the great pioneering convents (San Zanipolo in the foreground, but further away San Francesco del Deserto), and the Santa Maria Formosa zone, also an old town area already set up in the 12th century.
By 1200 AD, settlers began moving towards the Isole Realtine, the 118 islands that make up our town. And ships had to be built to provide Venice and the lagoon settlements with a living from the rich harvests from the salt gardens / salt pans that sprinkled the lagoon at this time (read more about the salt gardens in my blog post here). 
And now move on to take a look out of the second panormanic window - Panorama Est:
East: The San Giorgio dei Greci area, and in the front is the Church of San Zaccaria, so importantly connected to the creation of Piazza San Marco; in the distance you can see the "vegetable islands". Also to be seen in the distance is the area of the Venetian arsenal.
Panorama Est: We are growing (1200 - 1500 AD):
Our next stop shows the Arsenale, occupying the eastern parts of our town. It was inaugurated in the 12th century and first produced boats for merchants to transport all that salt out of the lagoon and bring in wheat and other merchandies in exchange, spices at the beginning. This was the start of the flourishing spice business of the Serenissima. The Arsenale was the first conveyor-belt style industry in the world, and boats of all kinds were built there. In 1203, when the blind Doge Enrico Dandolo left as commander of the fleet to conquer Constantinople, the Arsenale was able to deliver one ship per day!! The long quai named Riva degli Schiavoni was created, to create a long bank where the boats could attract, bringing in merchandise from Dalmatia for the growing town. Also in this part of town, Greek immigrants settled in the wake of fights with the Turks in the Aegean Sea, around the Church of San Giorgio dei Greci in the 15th century.
East: Another view towards the Arsenale, the vegetable islands are all in the background .. this is Riva degli Schiavoni, meaning that the ships arriving from Schiavonia (Dalmatia) were anchored here, bringing merchandise and food into town, such as meat (castradina !! what we eat for the Feast of SM della Salute), olive oil, wool, ...
But also at that time, vineyards and vegetable fields had to be created out of the marshy areas of the lagoon, to feed the growing population. Till these days, we get vegetables from the eastern part of the lagoon - Sant'Erasmo, le Vignole, ... and finally more people began moving in and out of town, immigrants from the Aegean and Dalmatian Coasts, creating La Venezia Levantina zones (San Giorgio dei Greci, San Giorgio degli Schiavoni), but also merchants from the then known parts of the world kept arriving here, from Turkey to Germany to Flanders ..
This is San Giorgio Maggiore convent and church in the foreground, in the background you see the islands of San Servolo, San Lazzaro degli Armeni, San Clemente ..
Panorama Sud: Peak time, ups and downs and fall of the Republic (1500 - 1800 AD):
Now turn south and view how the Republic of Venice reacted to these new settlers and visitors: Islands were increasingly assigned to them (eg San Lazzaro degli Armeni for the Armenian immigrants in 1717, fortresses were built on the Lido,  quarantine islands were created to save the city from pestilence and other scourges, hospitals were created on the islands (San Lazzaro degli Armeni was originally a quarantine island, as was San Servolo). This is also the area of town where the churches were built during the pestilence times that hit the town in the 16th and 17th century (Il Redentore and Santa Maria della Salute, you can see both of them in the picture below). 
South: The church of Santa Maria della Salute is in the front (1613), while the second church in the occasion of the salvage of the city from the pestilence times, Il Redentore, can be seen in the left corner, on the Giudecca island
At that time, the Southern Lagoon gradually shifted its focus with regard to economic purposes - salt pans were moved out of the lagoon into the waters surrounding Cervia on the Adriatic Coast next to the Po delta. The southern lagoon was instead used to set up valli da pesca - fish farming zones. At that time, the focus of commerce and business moved away from the Mediterranean towards the Atlantic, involving other nations like Spain, Portugal and England, and Venice was to re-position itself or ..
Now move west and view the latest 200 years of Venetian history.
West: In the far distance to the left, you see the long-stretched Giudecca island with Mulino Stucky - and the Venice port area incl. the cruise ship terminal with the cruise ships anchoring there. These enter the lagoon by way of the Porta di Bocca del Lido (where the Mose dam system is being installed), and move all the way, along Riva degli Schiavoni, passing by Piazza San Marco and entering Canale di Giudecca to reach their anchoring place, displacing huge amounts of water ..
Panoramo Ovest: Shifting times (1800 - today):
After the fall of the Republic in 1797, difficult times ushered in the age of industry, which popped up in Venice as everywhere else in Europe, and the western part of the island of Guidecca was chosen for the factories and workers' quarters (eg Mulino Stucky, which has now been turned into Hotel Hilton).
West: Here you can see the two bridges connecting Venice to the mainland -  car bridge left, train bridge right. In the background are the industria areas of Marghera / Mestre etc.
Napoleon who conquered the Venetian Republic came from this direction, and under the Austrian rulers, in January 1814, the railway bridge (Ponte ferroviario) connecting Venice with the mainland (terraferma) was built. In 1933, this bridge was reenforced by the road bridge (Ponte della Libertà)
Also in the 1930s, by the edge of the lagoon, industry centers were created, in Marghera and Fusina etc. Finally, the canals of the lagoon were deepened in the 1960s, starting with the Canale dei Petroli to allow oil tankers enough space to pass through the lagoon to reach Porto Marghera from the lagoon entry of Porta di Bocca di Malamocco. 
And finally, in the age of mass tourism, the cruise ships follow in their wake, anchoring at the cruise ship terminal located here on the western fringe of the town .. 
The latest addition to the western-most panorama: Cruise ships
By the way, from this macro-view time lapse of our town's history can be deducted micro-views as well - the garden atlas (gardens were not created here haphazardly) and how the Venetian lagoon became a selfsufficient entity. You can read more about how the lagoon was harnessed in a sustainable manner  in one of my next blog posts.




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