Venice and its Lagoon

World Heritage Site #74: Venice and its Lagoon
Venice and its Lagoon: My 74th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Venice and its Lagoon:

The UNESCO World Heritage property comprises the city of Venice and its lagoon situated in the Veneto Region of Northeast Italy. Founded in the 5th century AD and spread over 118 small islands, Venice became a major maritime power in the 10th century. The whole city is an extraordinary architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest building contains works by some of the world’s greatest artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, and others.

In this lagoon covering 50,000 km², nature and history have been closely linked since the 5th century when Venetian populations, to escape barbarian raids, found refuge on the sandy islands of Torcello, Jesolo, and Malamocco. These temporary settlements gradually became permanent and the initial refuge of the land-dwelling peasants and fishermen became a maritime power. Over the centuries, during the entire period of the expansion of Venice, when it was obliged to defend its trading markets against the commercial undertakings of the Arabs, the Genoese, and the Ottoman Turks, Venice never ceased to consolidate its position in the lagoon.

In this inland sea that has continuously been under threat, rises amid a tiny archipelago at the very edge of the waves one of the most extraordinary built-up areas of the Middle Ages. From Torcello to the north to Chioggia to the south, almost every small island had its own settlement, town, fishing village and artisan village (Murano). However, at the heart of the lagoon, Venice itself stood as one of the greatest capitals in the medieval world. When a group of tiny islands are consolidated and organized in a unique urban system, nothing remained of the primitive topography but what became canals, such as the Giudecca Canal, St Mark’s Canal and the Great Canal, and a network of small rii that are the veritable arteries of a city on water.

Venice and its Lagoon

There isn’t much to say about Venice that you probably don’t know. It is beautiful, it is romantic, and it is insanely expensive.


Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy. A photo of its lagoon and the gondolas navigating its massive water system is an iconic tourist shot. Hence, it comes as no surprise that it has captured the attention of UNESCO and it was inscribed as a cultural site in 1987, along with its expansive lagoon that has become a huge part of the city’s identity.

Venice is the capital of the Veneto region in Italy. It is located amidst a group of more than 100 islands that are separated by canals and linked via bridges. The city of Venice is located in the shallow part of the Venetian Lagoon. This is an enclosed bay that has come to be the notable city of Venice that is frequented by tourists from all over the world. Venice and its Lagoon is known for its variety of names including City of Bridges, City of Canals, and the Floating City.

History of Venice

Venice and its Lagoon

Aside from being known for its singular beauty, Venice and its lagoon is noted for its long and storied past. The city was founded out of necessity during the 6th century in order to flee the Barbarian invaders. By the year 1000, Venice was already among the most powerful cities in Europe. Over the years, the city continued its development until it emerged as an important cultural, political and commercial center. In fact, you will find some testaments to that power until today in the form of its palaces, elaborate bridges and splendid piazzas.

The city has received consistent threats from flood tides that are pushing in from the Adriatic Sea. These threats are highest during autumn and spring. About 600 years ago, the locals of Venice diverted the flow from the major river into the lagoon at the city in order to deter land-based attacks from invaders. This resulted in making the lagoons a lot deeper. Over the years, the Venetians are met with the problem of tides coming in and creeping a few centimeters into the quay. In fact, many of the old houses in Venice had the ground floor uninhabited due to the threat of flooding.

For this exact same reason and threat, the city was named as a world heritage property in order to aid in the conservation efforts of the city’s long and storied culture.

About Venice and its Lagoon

Venice and its Lagoon

The city of Venice is noted for its rich history, maritime power and architectural masterpiece. All of these combine to make the UNESCO World Heritage Sites one of the most notable ones in Italy.

Even though the city of Venice is popular for its various historical buildings (such as the St. Mark’s Basilica, Piazza San Marco and other works from artists like Titian, Veronese and Giorgione), the lagoon is an integral part of its identity. The entire lagoon measures at 50,000 square kilometers in total area. It has exemplified how nature and history have interlinked with each other. Despite the many old buildings and the threat of flooding from the lagoon, the city of Venice is quite notable for its state of ‘elegant decay’.

Tourism in Venice

Venice and its Lagoon

Venice and its lagoon is not just a popular tourist destination in Italy, but all over the world! Here are some of the interesting facts you need to know about tourism in Venice:

  • The city of Venice has an average daily tourist visit of 50,000.
  • It consistently ranks as one of the most internationally visited cities in the world. There is an average of 20 million international arrivals annually (as of 2007).
  • Venice authorities are currently considering putting a cap on tourist arrivals to prevent over-crowding and to protect the integrity of the historic city center.
  • Venice is home to many tourist attractions but the most popular among tourists include the Grand Canal, the Piazza San Marco and the St. Mark’s Basilica.
  • According to the Cruise Venice Committee, about 150 million Euros are spent by cruise ship passengers during their trip to Venice annually.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: May 4, 2017 @ 4:07 am

San Marino Historic Centre and Mount Titano

World Heritage Site #73: San Marino Historic Centre and Mount Titano
San Marino Historic Centre and Mount Titano: My 73rd UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the San Marino Historic Centre and Mount Titano:

San Marino Historic Center and Mount Titano covers 55 ha, including Mount Titano and the historic center of the city which dates back to the foundation of the republic as a city-state in the 13th century. San Marino is inscribed as a testimony to the continuity of a free republic since the Middle Ages. The inscribed city center includes fortification towers, walls, gates and bastions, as well as a neo-classical basilica of the 19th century, 14th and 16th-century convents, and the Palazzo Publico of the 19th century, as well as the 18th-century Titano Theater. The property represents a historical center still inhabited and preserving all its institutional functions. Thanks to its position on top of Mount Titano, it was not affected by the urban transformations that have occurred from the advent of the industrial era to today.

San Marino Historic Centre and Mount TitanoSan Marino is one of the smallest countries on Earth. It is a legacy of the time when the Italian peninsula was made up of city-states. It is the world’s oldest republic and also was the home of the only elected communist government in the world at one point. The entire economy of the country seems to come from tourism now. Every business on Mount Titano (which is most of the country) seems to be orientated towards tourism. The coat of arms of San Marino has three towers on it which represent the three towers which dominate Mount Titano.


The San Marino historic centre and Mount Titano is a 55-hectare area that is an important historical site for the city-state of San Marino. The republic has been around since the 13th century and so has these historical features, which has been an integral part of its identity. San Marino is therefore considered as the perfect example of how a free republic has survived and thrived long after the Middle Ages.

How to Get Here

San Marino is not an EU member. However, it shares an open border with Italy so you can easily get to San Marino from there. You need to secure a government permit, though, if you want to visit San Marino for more than 10 days.

There are no airports in San Marino; hence, you must travel via Italy to get to San Marino. The nearest airport to San Marino is at Rimini. Once in Italy, you can travel via car or bus. You should have no problem driving your own car from Italy to San Marino due to existing agreements between the two countries. Meanwhile, there are daily buses traveling to San Marino at a regular interval. You can look for the bus outside the Rimini train station.

Unfortunately, there are no train stations in San Marino. Hence, train travel is not plausible.

About the San Marino Historic Centre

San Marino Historic Centre and Mount Titano

The San Marino Historic Centre is one part of the UNESCO site (the only one) in the republic of San Marino. The city center features various structures and buildings such as fortification towers, bastions, gates, defensive walls, convents, and public plazas. These structures date back to the 14th century, or even older. The property is therefore a collection of important reminders of the history of San Marino and how it has remained intact after numerous centuries. In fact, the city center looks a lot like it did in the Middle Ages as it does now.

The position on top of Mount Titano is crucial to the preservation of the structures and the overall appearance of the city center. It has been protected from urban transformation due to the seclusion of its geographical setting. In fact, it has successfully evaded the industrial era and remain highly in terms of appearance and in some aspects of life.

Mount Titano

San Marino Historic Centre and Mount Titano

Mount Titano or Mount Titan is the highest peak in San Marino and belongs to the Apennines mountain range. The mountain measures at 739 meters above sea level. It is part of the UNESCO property citing San Marino Historic Center and Mount Titano as one unit of cultural value in 2008.

Mount Titano is an integral part of San Marino. In fact, a legend claims that a small monastery was once built on the top of the mountain during the 8th century. While this legend is not validated, it is an undeniable fact that the mountainous landscape provides a natural backdrop to San Marino. The mountainous landscape also provided a sense of seclusion that has enabled San Marino to survive for many centuries as an independent republic.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in San Marino.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 8:06 pm