Barbarians, crusaders, pirates, popes, emperors, and saints all take part in an exciting story filled with internal conflicts, deadly plagues, and distant wars.  In a sweeping historical chronology, you’ll relive over 1000 eventful years while winding through the picturesque streets of Venice and visiting some of its major monuments and lesser-known sights: the gondola building yard where master craftsmen still use time-honored construction techniques, the splendid baroque Basilica of Saint Mary of Good Health, Saint Mark’s Square, and the shipyards of the famed Arsenal among others.  This is truly a must-do for anyone looking to discover how and why the major events that shaped the story of Venice affected the world-famous city of today: its lifestyle, culture, architecture, and art.

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Relive Venice’s tumultuous early period when doges were blinded or overthrown in an attempt to gain control of a commercially rich Byzantine province and witness the full flowering of the mercantile aristocracy that once ruled the world’s wealthiest trading nation and mightiest sea power.  Through the gilded halls and dark prisons of the Doge’s Palace, you’ll discover the inner workings of Venice’s remarkable government: the ingenious electoral systems, the controls to prevent intrigue, and the penalties for corruption and abuse of power.

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Cross over ancient thresholds and enter into strange and exotic worlds hidden in the very heart of the Mediaeval and Renaissance city.  From the golden, oriental splendors of the Greek and Armenian churches and the solemn, dimly lit Dalmatian school to the once frenetic trade centers of the Germans and Turks and beyond to the quaint shops and richly decorated synagogues of the first Jewish Ghetto in history, you’ll experience a completely different, cosmopolitan Venice and hear about the people who came to the city in search of fortune, about the difficulties they faced, and about the role they played in the shaping of Venice and the Venetian culture.

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From the imposing, fourteenth-century churches of the Dominican and Franciscan friars to the magnificent meeting hall of the charitable confraternity of Saint Roch, you'll penetrate the aura of the sacred places created for the glory of God and the prestige of the State to discover how the city's greater artists responded to the call of faith and fame and created the incomparable works of religious art renowned throughout the world.  The flowing, vibrant colors of Titian, the violent shadows and dramatic light of Tintoretto, and the aristocratic elegance of Veronese all await you in a world of contradiction where piety and ambition contrasted in an ongoing quest for divine favor and the everlasting glory of man.

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Innovative architects penetrate Venice's conservative circles with bold ideas, and government officials, scholarly patrons, and influential clerics all line up for and against the radical building projects.  Political orientation, foreign policy, wealth, education, and allegiance to Venice and its traditions all come into play when proponents and detractors clash within the Senate.  For Venice, architecture becomes self-promotion as the stark temple fronts of Andrea Palladio's great churches slowly rise and Saint Mark's Square is re-made into a classical forum.  At a defining moment in Venice's history, you'll go beyond the “façade” to understand the city's need to evoke its origins at the time of the fall of the Roman Empire and proclaim its government as the custodian of Rome's republican ideals.

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Step into an age of inquisitors, heretics, and reformers and into a city plagued by ongoing war and commercial decline.  As the tide of Protestantism rises, a weary Venice and a besieged Catholic Church join forces to ensure civic harmony and defend traditional values and teachings.  In this conflicting world of repression and renewal, of reaffirmation and reformation, painting bows to religious dogma, and Tintoretto, Veronese, and Palma Giovane create their celebrated masterworks to visually present the eternal mysteries of redemption, impassion the faithful, and invoke the ultimate triumph of Catholic spirituality.

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Revel in the waning days of Venice when frivolity and immorality reigned supreme and art and literature concealed rumblings of political discontent.  The lavish rooms of Ca' Rezzonico, filled with the treasures of eighteenth-century Venetian art, the world-famous coffeehouses of Saint Mark's Square, the ornate church of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the private casinos and theaters of the decrepit aristocracy swept away by the ideas of the French Revolution all form the opulent stage for a world of hypocrisy and folly.  Against the backdrop of distant political and social upheavals, masked merrymakers, gamblers, and courtesans blissfully act out the final scene as the curtain slowly descends on Venice's millenarian civilization.

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