The city of Venice is situated in northern Italy on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. It is located on 120 islands and is known for its beauty and historical significance. The unique architecture and canals make tourism the basis of today’s Venetian economy. Its great works of art and majestic buildings date back to the fifth century. Venice was at one time the dominant commercial hub of Europe but over time, its eminence faded.
During the 16th century, the Venetians were at the height of their glory. The city was a center of commerce. Because of the prosperity of the city and the diverse culture of the Venetian Republic, artisans and merchants flocked to the area. It controlled the trade of the time and carried many products from Asia to Europe. The Venetians owned many important shipyards and an extensive merchant fleet. It became, not only a commercial center, but a place for people to gather and exchange ideas. The Republic was most famous for the its silk and woolen textiles and its delicate glassware. They also developed sophisticated chemical industry that produced soap and sugar.
The fall of the Venetians began with the discovery of the new trade route to the Indies. It diminished the traffic on the traditional route that passed through the commercial center of Venice, leading to a gradual decline in its prosperity. The other Italian states formed an alliance, the League of Cambrai, to assault Venetian possessions. Venice managed to retain their land but it no longer had the political power of its former days. The Ottoman Empire at the time was expanding rapidly, absorbing surrounding countries. When it reached the Republic, the Ottomans offered them the chance to surrender, and most Venetian cities chose to do so. Nevertheless, fighting ensued in several cities, and the Venetians lost many of their Eastern holdings. In 1570, the Turks began the assault on Cyprus, the stronghold of the Venetian military, and in 1573, the Venetians surrendered the island. From then on, the only island holdings that remained in Venetian possession were Crete, Paros, and the Ionian Islands. The aristocracy of the Venetian government soon fell behind the advancement of its European neighbors. Thereafter, peace and love became the focus of Venetian society.
Though Venice was once the greatest power in the Mediterranean, its downfall proves that in the grand scheme of things, human lives are ephemeral. The significant events of the present become only a memory to posterity. In the words of William Wordsworth, “When her long life hath reach'd its final day: / Men are we, and must grieve when even the Shade / Of that which once was great is pass'd away.”