The Port of Venice (Venezia in Italian) is a major seaport on the Adriatic Sea and the capital of the region of Veneto in Northern Italy about 65 nautical miles west-southwest of the Port of Trieste and some 274 kilometers east-northeast of the Port of Genoa. Unlike most famous Italian cities, the Port of Venice did not exist during the Roman Empire. The modern Port of Venice occupies the entire lagoon area with about 118 islands as well as to industrial boroughs on the mainland. The base of Venice's economy has always been maritime trade. While trade was first dominated by salt and fish from the lagoon, the Port of Venice became a center for trade between Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. In 2004, over 271 thousand people lived in the Port of Venice.
To support Venezia's busy trade, vessels were needed to carry goods and to defend against pirates and military rivals. Shipbuilding naturally came to be an important economic sector for the Port of Venice. Venezia also has many small and family-owned businesses that produce high-quality products like sunglasses, textiles, lace, furniture, and ski boots for export. Glassware is a traditional craft in the Port of Venice, and the makers of the finest glassware have moved to Murano to the north. Today, modern glass goods made in the Port of Venice are mostly trinkets sold for souvenirs. Some of the small islands still depend on the traditional fishing, fowling, salt making, and horticulture. Since the late 1700s, tourism has been a mainstay for the Port of Venice's economy, which is reflected in the plethora of hotels, restaurants, and shops throughout Venezia.
In the 6th Century AD, Germanic Lombards drove mainlanders to the lagoon's islands. The islands were isolated communities in the Veneto-Byzantine culture. Byzantine control continued until an 814 treaty gave political independence, and it became a trading intermediary between east and west empires. From the 9th to the 12th Century, Venice was one of four Italian city-states.
Its location promoted growth and increasing power, as it was Europe's gateway for trade with the Byzantine Empire and Islamic civilization. The Port of Venice's power base solidified during the 12th Century when the Arsenal was constructed, and control of the Brenner Pass was taken from Verona. The Republic took control of most Aegean Islands, including Cyprus and Crete, in building its maritime empire.
An imperial power by the 13th Century, the Port of Venice plundered Constantinople in 1204, seriously weakening the Byzantine Empire. By the end of the 13th Century, the Port of Venice was Europe's most prosperous city. In the early 14th Century, citizens were required to practice using the crossbow. During the 15th Century, Venetian soldiers were considered the most valuable in Italy, due in part to the fact that all classes defended Venezia and had military training.
The Venetian Republic sent troops to help defend Constantinople from the Turks in 1453. After Sultan Mehmet II took Venezia , he waged a 30-year war against the Port of Venice, costing Venezia most of her Mediterranean territory. Then Spain found the New World, and Portugal discovered a sea route to India. The Port of Venice's trade monopoly with the Far East was destroyed. When England, France, and Holland followed Portugal, Venice's ships could not travel the seas, and Venezia lost the race for colonial power.
The Black Plague killed one-third of Venezia's 150 thousand residents in 1630. Struggles between Spain and France for dominance of Italy left Venice with little political power. Despite these setbacks, the Port of Venice was an exporter of agricultural products and an important center for manufacturing until the middle 1700s.
After a millennium of independence, the Port of Venice was conquered by Napoleon in 1797. Later that year, the Port of Venice passed to Austrian control. Many palaces and buildings were abandoned, and Venezia entered a period of serious decline.
In 1846, a 4.8-kilometer causeway was built, bringing railway from the mainland and changing the Port of Venice's isolated mentality. When Prussia defeated Austria in 1866, the Port of Venice became part of Kingdom of Italy. In 1932, a road brought motor vehicle access to Venezia. Since the end of World War II, control of Venezia's government has bounced from leftists to centrists to socialists to reformists.