Venice at the time of Palladio was one of the largest and most prosperous cities in Europe. Founded between the 5th and the 6th centuries by wealthy mainland inhabitants fleeing the barbarian invasions, it grew from a few settlements in the lagoon islands to a military and economic superpower with a formidable fleet and long established trade routes to the East of the Mediterranean. Its spectacular main square, Piazza San Marco, showcased the wealth and artistic vision of its citizens, and magnificent townhouses lined its main thoroughfare, the Grand Canal.
There are various and complex factors behind this remarkable achievement but certainly the unusual and inhospitable physical environment in which the Venetians chose to build their city gave them a strong sense of identity and united them against the obstacles they had to overcome. Venice's relative isolation from mainland Italy and its connections firstly with the Byzantine Empire and then later with the Islamic world helped to shape a highly individual culture and, more specifically, the unique characteristics of its architecture.
Stone window shutter, Torcello Cathedral
Porta della Carta, Doge's Palace