Travel photography: Venice

March 12, 2016

You know what I probably like most about Europe? It's small (as far as continents go), rich in culture and there are countless fascinating destinations just a few hours away, no matter where you live. So many in fact that I haven't even been to some of the most popular in my area, but just recently I went to see one that was long overdue.

Venice, the most important touristic destination in Italy after Rome, is listed as a world heritage site in its entirety. Referred to be one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world it is visited by a whopping 20 million people a year.

The gondolas are an iconic sight of the city.
The Piazza San Marco with the Basilica and the Campanile of the same name.

Due to the city's immense popularity and the huge amount of tourists it can be hard to make one's way through the narrow roads. During my stay in February there were already quite some people there but still only half as many as in the high season from May to September.

A unique aspect is the complete absence of cars and trucks from almost the whole island. All the transportation still takes place by foot and via the complex network of waterways, just like centuries ago.

The tight waterways are skillfully navigated by the gondoliers.

The ever rising cost of housing, transportation and food had many Venetians move to the main land. Just as the number of tourists is increasing, the number of locals declines. Some analysts even say that Venice could turn into a ghost town by 2030 that will be solely populated by tourists during daytime and essentially empty during the night.

The falling number of locals combined with mass tourism also leads to increased deterioration on the buildings that can be observed almost everywhere.

Houses at the canal. The missing plaster and exposed bricks are a typical example of Venice's famous "elegant decay". Nowhere else in the world is dilapidation this good looking.
A gondola on the Canal Grande.
The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute at the Canal Grande shortly before, and shortly after sunset. I managed to take these two images on the only day that provided me with a good sunset.
Gondoliers preparing their gondolas for the night.

Venice was one of the most important centers also for interior design, especially the luxurious rococo style furniture belonged to the finest in Europe.

Rooms in the Palazzo Mocenigo.

The center of the old town forms around the St Mark's Square with the most notable buildings concentrated there.

The gothic Palazzo Ducale was the seat of the Doge of Venice, the highest authority of the Republic of Venice. It houses the Council Chamber, the Senate Chamber, the rooms of the law-courts and numerous other facilities.
A very special sight presents itself when the morning sun illuminates the piazza and the lanterns with their reddish glass housings.

The Palazzo Ducale is connected to the prison building on the opposite side of the channel via the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs). The name originated from the alleged sighs of the convicts that were taken from the courtroom to the jails while they had a last view on the outside world.

The Bridge of Sighs.

The Campanile di San Marco was originally intended to serve as a lighthouse and watchtower and is now the main Landmark of Venice.

Actually it is an exact replica of the original tower that collapsed due to a structural failure in 1902. Surprisingly the collapse did not cause any human casualties, only the tower warden's cat was crushed under the rubble.
It is said that from the top of the Campanile di San Marco it is not possible to see any of Venice's channels. This is basically true since only very few of them are lined up in the direction of the tower, so buildings obstruct the view. This one is an exception to the rule.

Especially well known is the Venetian gothic architectural style with that can be seen everywhere in the old town. Unique are the oriental influences from Byzantine and Moorish Spain.

Typical Venetian style buildings on the waterfront.
The view from the Puente de la academia is from a photographic point of view the best one in all of Venice in my opinion. It was also supposed to provide my best shot of the trip but although I was there multiple times (especially during sunrise) the cloudy weather unfortunately prevented me from getting more than these blatantly average images.
The small island of Burano, also located in the Venetian Lagoon about 7 kilometers north of Venice itself, is famous for its colorful houses and the lace that was manufactured and exported all over Europe. I can wholeheartedly recommend the local lace museum if you are a big fan of needlework or are just searching for the most boring museum on the planet.
View towards the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore.
This image of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute is an interesting example how bad weather can lead to rare photos. It was taken on an especially cloudy and foggy day which led to the sun barely piercing through the clouds, getting massively filtered in the process. It was only slightly visible on the horizon and even though I photographed directly into it, the low contrast allowed me to properly expose the foreground at the same time. This was really a single image without any graduated filters or HDR techniques.

Where is the Rialto Bridge?

As it sometimes can happen very old structures need repairs and in the duration of my stay the Rialto Bridge unfortunately was under complete renovation. This means it was covered in scaffolding and huge advertisement banners. The sight wasn't worth a shutter actuation – better luck next time.

Thanks for reading!

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