If you have a look at Venice's history, you will see that in the past, the city was a great naval and commercial force thanks to its strategic position at the head of the Adriatic sea. Venice was founded in the V° century A.D. by a group of refugees from northern Italy, an area of the country that was constantly plagued by wars and invasions.
The refugees settled on an island and turned it into the city of Venice. They started to build houses of wattle and daub, and anchored branches with stakes to protect the foundations from currents. They started to construct boats and to obtain food by fishing.
They dried sea water to extract salt and all of a sudden the economy of Venice was created. By the year 548 A.D. Venice was already a strong power, controlling all trade on the Adriatic Sea. By the IX° century, Venice developed into a city state, one of the four famous "Maritime Republics ".
These cities were the main commercial traders between Western Europe and the rest of the world. By the year 1104, the Porta Magna or Venetian Arsenal as we now know it, was born. After the Fourth Crusade, Venice became an imperial power that, with 36,000 sailors and 3,300 ships, controlled commerce on the Mediterranean sea.
At the end of the XVII° century, Venice began to lose its commercial power because of the growing power of Portugal and by the second half of XVIII° century it was already a major agricultural exporter and later became an important manufacturing centre.
St Mark's Basilica
The current economy of Venice is based mainly on tourism. The city's beautiful architecture, canals and other cultural and artistic heritage such as the Venetian Carnival and numerous film festivals, attract tourists from all over the world, throughout the year.
The island of Murano is famous for the production of a special, fine glass which is very well-regarded and exported all around the world. Another important Venetian craft product is lace, produced on the island of Burano.
The mainland - especially the towns of Mestre and Marghera - is an important shipbuilding zone with several industrial facilities such as steel processing, foundries and chemical factories.