Venice (Italian: Venezialisten (help·info), IPA: [veˈnεttsia], Venetian: Venesia) is a city in northern Italy, the capital of the regionVeneto, a population of 271,367 (census estimate 1 January 2004). Together with Padua, the city is included in the Padua-Venice Metropolitan Area (population 1,600,000). The city historically was the capital of an independent nation. Venice has been known as the "La Dominante", "Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Bridges", "City of Canals" and "The City of Light". Luigi Barzini, writing in The New York Times, described it as "undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man". Venice has also been described by the Times Online as being one of Europe's most romantic cities.
The city stretches across 118 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy. The saltwater lagoon stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po (south) and the Piave (north) Rivers. The population estimate of 272,000 inhabitants includes the population of the whole Comune of Venezia; around 60,000 in the historic city of Venice (Centro storico); 176,000 in Terraferma (the Mainland), mostly in the large frazione of Mestre and Marghera; and 31,000 live on other islands in the lagoon.
Ca' d'Oro (correctly Palazzo Santa Sofia) is regarded as one of the most beautiful palazzi on the Grand Canal in Venice. One of the older palazzi, it has always been known as Ca' d'Oro (golden house) due to the gilt and polychrome external decorations which once adorned its walls.
The Palazzo was built between 1428 and 1430 for the Contarini family, who provided Venice with eight Doges between 1043 and 1676. Upon election, each new Doge would leave his own palazzo and take residence in the Doge's Palace.
The principal façade of Ca' d'Oro facing onto the Grand Canal is built in the Bon's Venetian floral gothic style. Other nearby buildings in this style are Palazzo Barbaro and the Palazzo Giustinian. This elegant linear style favoured by the Venetian architects was not totally superseded by the flourishes of baroque until the end of the 16th century.
Did you know that Venice used to be a Republic? The history of the Republic of Venice began with the city of Venice, which originated as a collection of lagoon communities banded together for mutual defence from the Lombards as the power of the Byzantine Empire dwindled in northern Italy in the late seventh century. Sometime in the first decades of the eighth century, the people of the lagoon elected their first leader Ursus, who was confirmed by Byzantium and given the titles of hypatus and dux. He was the first historical Doge of Venice. Tradition, however, since the early eleventh century, dictates that the Venetians first proclaimed one Anafestus Paulicius duke in 697, though this story dates to no earlier than the chronicle of John the Deacon. Whatever the case, the first doges had their power base in Eraclea.