For centuries, Venice has captured the imaginations of artists, writers, and travelers from around the globe. Composed of more than 100 tiny islands and 400 bridges, the city is unlike anywhere else in the world.

It was founded in the sixth century by refugees fleeing Germanic tribes who had invaded the Italian peninsula. With buildings constructed on wood pilings driven into mudflats, it is a marvel of engineering. From these swampy beginnings, it grew into a vast trading empire that stretched throughout the Adriatic and Aegean Seas and into mainland Italy.

Positioned at the threshold of East and West, Venetian art and architecture flourished as it combined elements of Ottoman and Byzantine visual culture with Italian traditions.