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(vĕn`ĭs), Ital. Venezia, city (1991 pop. 309,422), capital of Venetia and of Venice prov., NE Italy, built on 118 alluvial islets within a lagoon in the Gulf of Venice (an arm of the Adriatic Sea). The city is connected with the mainland, 2.5 mi (4 km) away, by a rail and highway bridge. Between the islands run about 150 canals, mostly very narrow, crossed by some 400 bridges. The Grand Canal, shaped like a reversed letter S, is the main traffic artery; its chief bridge is the RialtoRialto,
city (1990 pop. 72,388), San Bernardino co., S Calif., a residential suburb of San Bernardino; inc. 1911. The city has greatly expanded as a result of the economic and demographic growth of the southern California area.
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, named after the island that was the historical nucleus of Venice. Gondolas, the traditional means of transport, have been superseded by small river boats (vaporetti), but there are numerous lanes (calles), public squares, and a few streets. Houses are built on piles.

Venice is a tourist, commercial, and industrial center. The tourist trade is stimulated by many annual festivals, including ones devoted to painting, motion pictures, drama, and contemporary music. The Venice Biennale, which exhibits various kinds of modern art every other year, has been held there since 1895. Manufactures include lace, jewelry, flour, and MuranoMurano
, suburb of Venice, NE Italy, on five small islands in the Lagoon of Venice. From the late 13th cent. it was the center of the Venetian glass industry, which reached a peak in the 16th cent. and was revived in the 19th cent. by Antonio Salviati.
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 glass, and the city is a center for shipbuilding. Porto Marghera, the modern port of Venice (founded in the 1920s), located on the mainland, is a major shipping facility and also has considerable industry.

Points of Interest

The center of animation in Venice is St. Mark's Square and the Piazzetta, which leads from the square to the sea. On the square are St. Mark's Church; the Gothic Doges' Palace (14th–15th cent.), from which the Bridge of SighsBridge of Sighs,
covered stone bridge in Venice, Italy, built in the 16th cent. to connect the ducal palace with the state prison. The prisoners were led over the bridge directly to prison after trial in the ducal palace.
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 (c.1600) leads to the former prisons; the Old and New Law Courts (16th–17th cent.); the campanile (325 ft/99 m high; built in the 10th cent.; rebuilt after it collapsed in 1902); the Moors' Clocktower (late 15th cent.); the elegant Old Library (1553); St. Moses' Church; and the twin columns supporting the statues of St. Theodore stepping on a crocodile and of a winged lion of St. Mark (the emblem of Venice). On an island facing the Piazzetta is the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore (1566–1610) and on a nearby tip of land is the Church of Santa Maria della Salute (17th cent.).

Among the city's numerous other points of interest are the churches of Santa Maria Gloriosa del Frari (with paintings by Titian), San Zanipolo (1234–1430), and San Zaccaria (with a Madonna by Bellini); the Academy of Fine Arts, with fine paintings by Bellini, Carpaccio, Mantegna, Giorgione, Veronese, and others; the Scuola di San Rocco, with a series of paintings by Tintoretto; the Scuola degli Schiavoni, with paintings by Carpaccio; and the palaces Ca' d'Oro (1440; late Gothic), Rezzonico (1680), and Pesaro (1710; baroque). The fashionable beach resort of Lido di Venezia is on a nearby island.


Founding and Rise of Venice

With Istria, Venice formed a province of the Roman Empire. In the 6th cent. refugees fleeing the Lombard invaders of N Italy sought safety on the largely uninhabited islands. The communities organized themselves (697) under a doge [Lat. dux=leader]. Favorably situated for handling seaborne trade between East and West, the communities grew, and by the 9th cent. they had formed the city of Venice.

The city secured (10th cent.) most of the coast of DalmatiaDalmatia
, Croatian Dalmacija, historic region of Croatia, extending along the Adriatic Sea, approximately from Rijeka (Fiume) to the Gulf of Kotor. Split is the provincial capital; other cities include Zadar (the historic capital), Šibenik, and Dubrovnik.
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, thus gaining control of the Adriatic, and began to build up its eastern empire, obtaining trade and other privileges in the ports of the eastern Mediterranean. The influence of the Middle East, particularly Byzantium, which characterizes much Venetian art and architecture, is most clearly expressed in Saint Mark's ChurchSaint Mark's Church,
Venice, named after the tutelary saint of Venice. The original Romanesque basilical church, built in the 9th cent. as a shrine for the saint's bones, was destroyed by fire in 967.
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 (rebuilt 1063–73), located on the city's principal square. In 1204 the doge, Enrico Dandolo (see under DandoloDandolo
, ancient Venetian family that produced four doges, many admirals, and other prominent citizens. Enrico Dandolo, c.1108–1205, became doge in 1192. He is considered the founder of the Venetian colonial empire.
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, family), led the host of the Fourth Crusade (see CrusadesCrusades
, series of wars undertaken by European Christians between the 11th and 14th cent. to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims. First Crusade

In the 7th cent., Jerusalem was taken by the caliph Umar.
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) in storming Constantinople. Strategic points in the Ionian, the Aegean, and the E Mediterranean were taken, notably Crete (1216). The great traveler Marco PoloPolo, Marco
, 1254?–1324?, Venetian traveler in China. His father, Niccolò Polo, and his uncle, Maffeo Polo, had made (1253–60) a trading expedition to Constantinople.
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 represented the enterprising spirit of Venice in the 13th and 14th cent.

Queen of the Seas

After defeating (1380) its rival Genoa in the War of ChioggiaChioggia
, city (1991 pop. 53,179), Venetia, NE Italy, on a small island at the southern end of the Lagoon of Venice (an arm of the Gulf of Venice), connected to the mainland by a bridge. It is an important fishing port and commercial center.
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, Venice was indisputably the leading European sea power; its sea consciousness was expressed in the symbolic marriage ceremony of the doges with the Adriatic, celebrated with great pomp on the huge gilded gondola, the Bucentaur. All citizens shared in the prosperity, but the patrician merchants obtained political privileges. Membership in the great council, which by then had replaced the general citizenry as an electorate in the election of the doges, became restricted to an oligarchy. In reaction to an unsuccessful conspiracy in 1310, the Council of Ten (see Ten, Council ofTen, Council of,
in the republic of Venice, a special tribunal created (1310) to avert plots and crimes against the state. It was a direct result of the unsuccessful Tiepolo conspiracy against the Venetian oligarchy. In 1335 the body was given permanent status.
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) was instituted to punish crimes against the state. The Ten, by means of a formidable secret police, acquired increasing power, and the doge became a figurehead.

In the 15th cent. Venice, known as the "queen of the seas," reached the height of its power. The city engaged in a rich trade, especially as the main link between Europe and Asia; all VenetiaVenetia
, Ital. Veneto or Venezia Euganea, region (1991 pop. 4,380,797), 7,095 sq mi (18,376 sq km), NE Italy, bordering on the Gulf of Venice (an arm of the Adriatic Sea) in the east and on Austria in the north.
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 on the mainland was conquered; and Venetian ambassadors, creators of the modern diplomatic servicediplomatic service,
organized body of agents maintained by governments to communicate with one another. Origins

Until the 15th cent. any formal communication or negotiation among nations was conducted either by means of ambassadors specially appointed for a
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, made the power of the city felt at every court of the known world. The arsenal (founded 1104; rebuilt in the 15th and 16th cent.), where ships were built, was one of the world's wonders.

The decline of Venice can be dated from the fall (1453) of Constantinople to the Turks, which greatly reduced trade with the Levant, or from the discovery of America and of the Cape of Good Hope route to Asia, which transferred commercial power to Spain and other nations to the west of Italy. The effects were not felt immediately, however, and Venice continued its proud and lavish ways. In the Italian WarsItalian Wars,
1494–1559, series of regional wars brought on by the efforts of the great European powers to control the small independent states of Italy. Renaissance Italy was split into numerous rival states, most of which sought foreign alliances to increase their
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, it challenged both the emperor and the pope; the League of Cambrai, formed (1508) by Pope Julius II to humble Venice, merely resulted in a few minor losses of the city's territory; the naval victory of LepantoLepanto, battle of
, Oct. 7, 1571, naval battle between the Christians and Ottomans fought in the strait between the gulfs of Pátrai and Corinth, off Lepanto (Návpaktos), Greece. The fleet of the Holy League commanded by John of Austria (d.
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 (1571) gave Venice renewed standing by undoing Turkish sea power.

The Renaissance marked the height of Venice's artistic glory. Architects like the LombardoLombardo
, Italian family of sculptors and architects. Emigrants from Lombardy c.1470, they were leaders in the architectural Renaissance in Venice. Pietro Lombardo, c.
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 family, Jacopo SansovinoSansovino, Jacopo
, 1486–1570, Italian sculptor and architect of the Renaissance. His surname was taken in place of his own, Tatti, as homage to the Florentine sculptor Andrea Sansovino, under whom he was apprenticed.
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, and PalladioPalladio, Andrea
, 1508–80, Italian architect of the Renaissance. Originally a stonemason, he was trained as an architect in Vicenza, and later in Rome he examined the remains of Roman architecture.
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, and the Venetian school of painting, which besides its giants—TitianTitian
, c.1490–1576, Venetian painter, whose name was Tiziano Vecellio, b. Pieve di Cadore in the Dolomites. Of the very first rank among the artists of the Renaissance, Titian was extraordinarily versatile, painting portraits, landscapes, and sacred and historical
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 and TintorettoTintoretto
, 1518–94, Venetian painter, whose real name was Jacopo Robusti. Tintoretto is considered one of the greatest painters in the Venetian tradition. He was called Il Tintoretto [little dyer] from his father's trade.
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—also included Giovanni BelliniBellini
, illustrious family of Venetian painters of the Renaissance. Jacopo Bellini , c.1400–1470, was a pupil of Gentile da Fabriano. He worked in Padua, Verona, Ferrara, and Venice.
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, Jacopo PalmaPalma, Jacopo
, c.1480–1528, Venetian painter, called Palma Vecchio. He formed his style under the influence of Giovanni Bellini, Titian, and Giorgione and ranks as one of the foremost masters of his school.
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 (Palma Vecchio), and VeroneseVeronese, Paolo
, 1528–88, Italian painter of the Venetian school. Named Paolo Caliari, he was called Il Veronese from his birthplace, Verona. Trained under a variety of minor local artists, he was more influenced by the works of Giulio Romano, Parmigianino, and
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, gave Venice its present aspect of a city of churches and palaces, floating on water, blazing with color and light, and filled with art treasures. Freedom of expression was complete except to those who actively engaged in politics; the satirist Aretino, the "scourge of princes," chose Venice as his place of residence, and John of SpeyerJohn of Speyer
, d. 1470, first printer in Venice, b. Bavaria. He designed and patented the first type purely roman in character. It appears in Cicero's Epistulae ad familiares and Pliny's Historia naturalis, both printed in 1469.
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, Nicolas JensonJenson or Janson, Nicolas
, d. c.1480, Venetian printer, b. France. Jenson studied printing with Gutenberg at Mainz for three years.
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, and Aldus ManutiusAldus Manutius
or Aldo Manuzio
, 1450–1515, Venetian printer. He was educated as a humanistic scholar and became tutor to several of the great ducal families. One of them, the Pio family, provided him with money to establish a printery in Venice.
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 made the city a center of printing.

Decline of Venice to the Present

The fall of CyprusCyprus
, Gr. Kypros, Turk. Kıbrıs, officially Republic of Cyprus, republic (2015 est. pop. 1,161,000), 3,578 sq mi (9,267 sq km), an island in the E Mediterranean Sea, c.40 mi (60 km) S of Turkey and c.60 mi (100 km) W of Syria.
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 (1571), Crete (1669), and the Peloponnesus (1715; see GreeceGreece,
Gr. Hellas or Ellas, officially Hellenic Republic, republic (2015 est. pop. 11,218,000), 50,944 sq mi (131,945 sq km), SE Europe. It occupies the southernmost part of the Balkan Peninsula and borders on the Ionian Sea in the west, on the Mediterranean Sea
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) to the Turks ended Venetian dominance in the E Mediterranean. Although the dramatist GoldoniGoldoni, Carlo
, 1707–93, Italian dramatist. He was enamored of comedy from childhood, having sketched his first comic drama at eight. He took a degree in law at Padua but thereafter devoted himself to the theater.
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 and painters such as TiepoloTiepolo, Giovanni Battista
, 1696–1770, Italian painter, b. Venice. A master of the rococo style, he was the most important Venetian painter and decorator of the 18th cent. His frescoes in the Labia Palace and the doge's palace won him international fame.
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 and CanalettoCanaletto
, 1697–1768, Venetian painter, whose original name was Antonio Canal. He studied with his father, Bernardo Canal, a theatrical scene painter, and spent several years in Rome.
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 still made Venice the most original artistic city of 18th-century Italy, they represented to some extent the decadence that accompanied the city's commercial and military decline. Politics in 18th-century Venice was aristocratic and stagnant. When, in 1797, Napoleon I delivered Venice to Austria in the Treaty of Campo FormioCampo Formio, Treaty of
, Oct., 1797, peace treaty between France and Austria, signed near Campo Formio, a village near Udine, NE Italy, then in Venetia. It marked the end of the early phases of the French Revolutionary Wars.
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, the republic fell without fighting. During the Risorgimento, however, Venice played a vigorous role under the leadership of Daniele ManinManin, Daniele
1804–57, Venetian leader of the movement to free N Italy from Austrian rule. His father, a Jew, was converted to Christianity and took the name of his patrons, the illustrious Venetian family of Manin.
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; having expelled the Austrians in 1848, it heroically resisted siege until 1849. In 1866, Venice and Venetia were united with the kingdom of Italy.

Since the 1950s, the city increasingly has been swamped by periodic floods, in part because it has sunk due to the withdrawal of water (now ended) from the aquifers beneath it and because sea levels have risen. Increased air pollution from cars and industrial smoke has contributed to the deterioration of the ancient buildings and works of art, and the high phosphorus and nitrogen content of the lagoon has stimulated algal growth, which has depleted marine life. Such environmental problems have led to a steady depopulation of Venice to the mainland over the past several decades. A major international aid program, begun in the mid-1960s by UNESCO, has searched for ways to preserve Venice; several government studies of Venice's problems have also been undertaken. In 1988, engineers began testing prototypes for a mechanical barrage, or sea gate, which could be raised in time of flooding to close the lagoon, and construction of system of sea gates began in 2003, but the project has been subject to delays and cost overruns.


See P. G. Molmenti, Venice (tr., 6 vol., 1906–8); A. Tenenti, Piracy and the Decline of Venice, 1560–1615 (tr. 1967); M. Andrieux, Daily Life in Venice in the Time of Casanova (tr. 1972); O. Logan, Culture and Society in Venice, 1470–1790 (1972); W. H. McNeill, Venice: The Hinge of Europe, 1081–1797 (1974, repr. 2009); D. Howard, The Architectural History of Venice (1980); J. J. Norwich, A History of Venice (1982); J. Morris, The World of Venice (rev. ed. 1985); M. Tafuri, Venice and the Renaissance (1989); J. Pemble, Venice Rediscovered (1995); G. Wills, Venice: Lion City (2001); R. Crowley, City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas (2012); T. F. Madden, Venice: A New History (2012).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Venezia), a city in northeastern Italy, on the shore of the Gulf of Venice on the Adriatic Sea. Administrative center of Veneto District and Venezia Province. Population, 368,000 (1969).

Venice is picturesquely situated on 118 islands in the Venetian Lagoon. The islands are separated by 150 canals, which are spanned by about 400 bridges. All intracity transportation in Venice consists of motorboats, gondolas, and barges. Railroad and motor-vehicle bridges connect the city with the mainland. The Venetian Lagoon is separated from the sea by a spit that is divided by straits, two of which are accessible to oceangoing vessels. The territory occupied by Venice, especially in the center of the city, is subject to gradual settling. During autumn storms on the Adriatic Sea, the water in the canals often rises so high that it inundates the city squares and streets.

History. The first settlements on the territory of Venice—on the lagoon islands near the northern shores of the Adriatic Sea—grew up in the fifth century B.C. During the period of invasions by barbaric tribes (fourth to seventh centuries A.D.), the population grew as refugees poured in from continental Italy. In the middle of the sixth century the islands were conquered by Byzantium but in fact remained independent. On the islands there arose communities which, at approximately the turn of the eighth century, formed a republic headed by a doge. The city of Venice grew up at the beginning of the ninth century on Rialto Island as a center of the duchy. During the ninth and tenth centuries, Venice became a large intermediary center of trade between Western Europe and the East. The crafts that appeared were metalworking, woodworking, fur and leather dressing, the production of textiles and glassware, and shipbuilding. By the end of the tenth century Venice was regarded by Byzantium as an independent state. At this time, the Republic of Venice annexed the Istrian cities of Capodistria, Parenzo, Umago, and Rovigno and sought to subjugate the Dalmatian cities. In the 11th and 12th centuries the Republic of Venice was a rich maritime state that had attained hegemony on the Adriatic Sea owing to its strong fleet. During the first three Crusades (the end of the 11th century to the 12th century) Venice, which rendered military aid to the crusaders, was able to create a chain of strong points on the east coast of the Mediterranean. As a result of the fourth crusade (1202-04), Venice became a Mediterranean empire, taking possession of part of Constantinople, a number of harbors on the Sea of Marmara and in the straits, and Euboea, Crete, and other islands.

At the end of the 13th century the Republic of Venice became an oligarchy. Representatives of 200 to 300 patrician families made up all the higher governmental bodies: the Great Council (which controlled all the affairs of state either directly or through an appellate procedure), the Lesser Council, or Signoria (the republic government), the Senate (which dealt with colonial affairs and foreign policy), and the Council of Forty (the highest judicial body). The doge, who was elected for life, was head of the Lesser Council and the entire republic. At the turn of the 14th century the merchants, removed from power, vainly sought to overthrow this order (the conspiracies of Bocconio in 1299 and Marin Falier in 1355, the uprising of Bajamonte Tiepolo in 1310).

The 14th and 15th centuries saw the flowering of Venice. The prolonged struggle of Venice with Genoa ended in the defeat of the Genoese fleet near Chioggia in 1380. Victorious Venice forced its commercial rival out of the eastern part of the Mediterranean and concentrated a substantial part of the Western European trade with the East in its own hands. Venice consolidated its position in Dalmatia and took over several areas in Albania and the Ionic Islands. From the 14th century to the beginning of the 16th, Venice greatly expanded its possessions on the continent. (Padua, Vicenza, Verona, Brescia, Ravenna, Cremona, Rimini, and others were annexed.)

The seizure of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 and the shifting of the trade routes from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean as a consequence of the Great Geographic Discoveries dealt a heavy blow to the power of Venice. Wars between Venice and the Turks in the 15th to 18th centuries, as a consequence of which Venice lost almost all its possessions in the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean, played a paramount role in undermining Venetian trade, resulting in its drastic economic and political decline in the 17th and 18th centuries.

In 1797, Venice was occupied by the armies of the French Directorate commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte. By the terms of the Treaty of Campo Formio in 1797, almost the entire territory of the Republic of Venice was turned over to Austria, but after the Treaty of Pressburg in 1805 it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. The Congress of Vienna of 1814-15 again put Venice under Austrian domination. In March 1848, during the Revolution of 1848-49, a republic was proclaimed in Venice. However, in August 1849, after a heroic defense, it fell under the blows of the Austrian Army. The Treaty of Vienna of 1866 made Venice a part of the Kingdom of Italy.

During the fascist German occupation of 1943-45, Venice was a major center of the Resistance Movement. On Apr. 28, 1945, a popular uprising began in Venice, and by April 29 it was liberated.


Economy. Venice is a major commercial and military port. (The freight turnover was 15.8 million tons in 1966; passenger traffic was 250,000 persons.) It is also an air-transportation center.

Industry in the city is poorly developed and is represented mainly by old enterprises, among which are the state shipbuilding and ship-repairing plant (the Arsenal): two private shipyards; paper, printing, food, and knitwear enterprises; electromechanical workshops; and enterprises engaged in the traditional Venetian manufacture of glass (Murano Island), lace (Burano Island), and mosaic articles. The mainland suburbs of Venice—Porto Marghera, Fusina, and Mestre—are of industrial importance. There are large plants in Porto Marghera (alumina, aluminum, zinc-smelting, petroleum refining, chemical-coke, and petrochemical plants, a plant producing fluorine and fluorine compounds, and a shipyard), many of which were constructed after World War II. The suburb of Fusina has new aluminum and aluminum-rolling plants. Mestre has railroad workshops, transportation machine building plants, and petroleum refineries. Lido Island, a suburb of Venice, is a well-known international coastal spa. It is also the site of the Venice airport. A community of Armenian Mekhitarists lives on San Lazzaro Island; their library contains valuable ancient Armenian manuscripts. Venice has a trade institute, a medical school, an institute for the study of the Adriatic Sea, and an academy of fine arts.

The unusual location of the city and its many architectural monuments and extremely rich art collections attract many tourists; there is an especially heavy influx during international film festivals, modern art exhibitions, and festivals of modern theater, music and so on. Tourism and the hotel industry play an important role in the city’s economic life.


Architecture. The architecture of Venice took shape from the 14th century to the beginning of the 16th, during the greatest flowering of the Republic of Venice. The richly decorated church buildings, the splendid facades of the palaces (which are often covered with colored marble inlays, tracery galleries, and windows with patterned decorations), the light curvilinear bridges (which are reflected in the waters of the lagoons and the many canals), and the narrow crooked streets with continuous rows of three- and four-story houses invest the city with quaint and festive charm. At the center of Venice, framed by the buildings of the Procuratie Vecchie (1480-1514) and the Procuratie Nuove (1584-1640), is the Piazza San Marco, with the five-domed St. Mark’s Cathedral (829-832) and the Campanile (a bell tower, 888-1517; since 1537 the Loggetta, by J. Sansovino, has been at its base). St. Mark’s Cathedral was reconstructed in 1073-95; the facade was completed in the 15th century and the bronze Byzantine doors in the 11th century; over the central portal are four bronze horses of the fourth to third centuries B.C. that were brought from Constantinople in 1204; and the interior has marble mosaic floors and mosaics of the 12th to 14th centuries. Next to the Piazza San Marco is the Piazzetta, which opens onto the lagoon. Flanking it are the Old Library of San Marco (1536-54, J. Sansovino; completed in 1583) and the Doges’ Palace (begun in the ninth century; completed in the 14th to 16th centuries). The Bridge of Sighs (1600) adjoins the palace on the east and connects it with the prisons (1560-1614). To the north are the Piazza Santi Giovanni e Paolo, with a Gothic church of the same name (1246-1430); the building of the religious fraternity Scuola Grande di San Marco (1488-90); and an equestrian monument to the condottiere Colleoni (1479-88, unveiled in 1496; sculptor A. del Verrocchio). Along the S-shaped Grand Canal, which traverses the city, are palaces in Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque styles—among them the Ca’ d’Oro (1422-40, G. and B. Bon), Vendramin Calergi (1481-1509, completed by P. Lombardo), Corner Spinelli (late 15th to early 16th centuries), Corner (from 1532), Rezzonico (1660), and Pesaro (finished in 1710)—and the Rialto Bridge (1588-92).

Churches in the Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque style include Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (1338-1443, with altar paintings by Titian), San Zaccharia (begun in the tenth century and rebuilt in 1444-65; facade completed at the end of the 15th century), Santa Maria dei Miracoli (1481-89, P. Lombardo), II Redentore (completed 1592, Palladio), Santa Maria della Salute (1631-81, B. Longhena), and Scuola Grande di San Rocco (1517-50, with paintings by Tintoretto). The church and monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore (1565-80, Palladio) are on the island of the same name. Construction carried out in the 20th century includes Porto Marghera (a new industrial and residential district on the mainland; from 1917), the Casa delle Zattere (1957), and the Santa Lucia railroad station (1956), as well as the Academy Gallery, the Correr Museum (art of the 14th to 16th centuries), the International Gallery of Modern Art (in the Pesaro Palace), the Archaeological Museum, and the G. Franchetti Gallery (in Ca’ d’Oro). On Torcello Island there is a cathedral (seventh to 11th centuries) with mosaic decorations of the ninth and 12th centuries; the Romanesque Church of Santi Maria e Donato (12th century) and the Glasswork Museum are on Murano Island. The International Exhibition of Modern Art (the Biennale; established in 1895) is held in Venice every two years.


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Brunetti, M., and G. Lorenzetti. Venezia nella storia e nell’arte. Venice, 1950.
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Muratori, S. Studi per una operante storia urbana della città de Venezia. Rome, 1961.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Various dates, from Epiphany to Ash Wednesday Eve
The period known as Carnival—probably from the Latin caro or carne levara, meaning "to take away meat" and "a farewell to flesh"—begins anytime after Epiphany and usually comes to a climax during the last three days before Ash Wednesday, especially during Mardi Gras. It is a time of feasting and revelry in anticipation of the prohibitions of Lent.
Carnival is still observed in most of Europe and the Americas. It features masked balls, lavish costume parades, torch processions, dancing, fireworks, noisemaking, and of course feasting on all the foods that will have to be given up for Lent. Ordinarily Carnival includes only the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday ( see Fasching), but sometimes it begins on the preceding Friday or even earlier. In Brazil, Carnival is the major holiday of the year.
See also Karneval in Cologne and Shrove Tuesday
BkDays-1864, vol. I, pp. 65, 236
BkFest-1937, pp. 4, 29, 38, 54, 67, 95, 102, 111, 120, 132, 146, 166, 179, 219, 241, 249, 259, 267, 289, 298, 316, 328
DictFolkMyth-1984, pp. 105, 178, 181, 192, 193, 197, 220, 370, 397, 543, 568, 629, 747, 749, 757, 759, 787, 807, 842, 844, 947, 977, 980, 1082
EncyEaster-2002, p. 51
EncyRel-1987, vol. 3, p. 98
FestWestEur-1958, pp. 6, 23, 34, 55, 56, 89, 124, 151, 163, 191, 211, 230
FolkAmerHol-1999, p. 88
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 132
GdUSFest-1984, pp. 5, 68, 133
GdWrldFest-1985, pp. 4, 24, 64, 96, 133, 147, 175
HolSymbols-2009, p. 106
IntlThFolk-1979, pp. 44, 82, 278
OxYear-1999, p. 603
RelHolCal-2004, p. 91

Celebrated in: Argentina, Aruba, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, Hungary, India, Malta, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland

Carnival (Argentina)
The celebration of Carnival in Argentina has decreased in the larger cities, but it remains the most popular celebration of the year in the more sparsely inhabited northern zone. In the province of Jujuy, men and women wearing colorful blankets perform carnivalito, a traditional round dance where couples continually vary a few simple figures while their leader waves a handkerchief or ribboned stick and calls out for changes in a high voice. Although this dance at one time was associated with an ancient harvest festival, its significance in this context has been long forgotten. In some places people dance for a few hours a day. These festivities may continue for as long as a month.
The tincunaco ceremony is an important part of the Carnival celebration in other areas of Argentina. The ceremony symbolizes the sacred ties that unite a mother and her child's godmother. It takes place under an arch made from a branch taken from a willow tree and decorated with fruit, sweets, cheese, blossoms, and lanterns. The mothers line up on one side of the arch, the godmothers on the other. They move toward one another until they meet under the arch. There they touch foreheads and pass a child made from candy from one to the other. The celebration usually draws to a close with the mock funeral of Pukllay, the spirit of Carnival. One woman, chosen to act as Pukllay's wife, cries about her husband's death. The others tap drums and sing Carnival tunes. Pukllay—usually a rag doll dressed in native costume—is laid to rest in a freshly dug grave showered with blossoms and sweets.
National Secretariat of Tourism, Tourist Information Centers
Av. Santa Fe 883
Buenos Aires, C1059ABC Argentina
54-11-4312-2232; fax: 54-11-4302-7816
FiestaTime-1965, p. 53

Celebrated in: Argentina

Carnival (Aruba)
February-March; three days before Ash Wednesday
Preparations for the Carnival celebration on the island of Aruba begin months before the actual event. There is a calypso competition at the end of January, followed by a steel band competition to see who gets to perform in the Carnival parade in Oranjestad. Then there's a tumba contest, "tumba" being the native music of the Netherlands Antilles. The actual celebration begins three days before Ash Wednesday and ends at midnight on Mardi Gras.
The highlight is the Carnival Main Parade, which takes eight hours to wind its way through the streets of Oranjestad. It includes elaborate floats and people in colorful costumes dancing the jump-up, a dance performed to a half-march rhythm. The three-day festival comes to an end with the Old Mask Parade, followed by the traditional burning of "King Momo."
Aruba Tourism Authority
One Financial Pl., Ste. 2508
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33394
954-767-6477; fax: 954-767-0432
GdWrldFest-1985, p. 4

Celebrated in: Aruba

Carnival (Bolivia)
While Carnival celebrations were formerly held throughout Bolivia, the tendency in recent years has been for people to gather in the larger cities, such as La Paz, Sucre, Cochambamba, and Oruro, where the dancing and drinking can go on for a week ( see also Carnival of Oruro). Pepinos, masked clowns that wear striped clothing and carry cardboard rods, are found only in La Paz. They wander through the crowds talking in high-pitched voices so that no one will know who they are. Thus disguised they strike at random passersby—who often hit back—with their cardboard batons. Those who wish to dress as pepinos must apply to the police for a special license and wear it throughout the festival so that all can see it. In this way, festivalgoers can identify pepinos that cause injury to people or property.
Bolivian Embassy
3014 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-483-4410; fax: 202-328-3712
FiestaTime-1965, p. 46

Celebrated in: Bolivia

Carnival (Brazil)
Between January 30 and March 5; four days preceding Ash Wednesday
Carnival is the largest popular festival in Brazil, the last chance for partying before Lent. The most extravagant celebration takes place along the eight miles of Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, where, since the 1930s, the parades, pageants, and costume balls go on for four days, all accompanied by the distinctive rhythm of the samba. The whole city is decorated with colored lights and streamers, and impromptu bands play on every street corner. Banks, stores, and government offices are closed until noon on Ash Wednesday.
The high point of the Carioca (as the natives of Rio are known) Carnival is the parade of the samba schools ( Escola de Samba ), which begins on Carnival Sunday and ends about midday on Monday. The samba schools are neighborhood groups, many of whom come from the humblest sections of Rio, who develop their own choreography, costumes, and theme songs. The competition among them is as fierce as the rivalry of top sports teams. A single samba school can have as many as two to three thousand participants, so the scale of the parade can only be described as massive. People spend months learning special dances for the parade, and must often raise huge sums of money to pay for their costumes, which range from a few strategically placed strings of beads to elaborate spangled and feathered headdresses. Each samba school dances the length of the Sambadrome, a one-of-a-kind samba stadium designed by Oscar Niemeyer and built in 1984 to allow 85,000 spectators to watch the samba schools dance by. Viewing the parade from the Sambadrome is usually an all-night affair.
In recent years, more and more of Carnival has moved into clubs, the Club Monte Libano being one of the most famous. The Marilyn Monroe look-alike contest held by transvestites on Sugarloaf Mountain is among the most unusual events.
Rio de Janeiro Tourism Authority
Praca Pio X, 119 - 9? andar - Centro
Rio de Janeiro-RJ-, Cep 20040-020 Brasil
55-21-2271-7000; fax: 55-21-531-1872
BkHolWrld-1986, Feb 25
DictFolkMyth-1984, p. 193
EncyEaster-2002, p. 38
EncyRel-1987, vol. 3, p. 102
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 136
GdWrldFest-1985, p. 24

Celebrated in: Brazil

Carnival (Colombia)
February-March; Friday through Tuesday before Ash Wednesday
From the Friday preceding Ash Wednesday until Shrove Tuesday, the Colombian city of Barranquilla celebrates Carnival. There are costume balls, folklore shows, water festivals, and, on the night before Ash Wednesday, the ceremonial burial of "JosÉ Carnaval," the spirit who rules over the festivities. Each barrio, or neighborhood, chooses its own beauty queen and holds informal parties, while the city's wealthier inhabitants hold pageants and formal balls, competing to see who can come up with the most ornate costume. Ron blanco, the local white rum, is the favored drink, and residents dance in the streets to African and Indian rhythms. The Battle of Flowers on the opening day of the festival involves many elaborate floats decorated with the country's exotic flora.
Colombian Embassy
2118 Leroy Pl. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-387-8338; fax: 202-232-8643
GdWrldFest-1985, p. 64

Celebrated in: Colombia

Carnival (Cuba)
Late July to early August
The celebration of Carnival in Havana, Cuba, dates back to the earliest years of the republic, when it featured comparsas, or groups of Afro-Cuban dancers, and parades of local officials and other distinguished people in carriages or on horseback. The first floats, many of them imported from New Orleans, appeared in 1908, but from then on, the people of Havana began to design and construct floats of their own and to establish what soon became one of the best-known Carnival celebrations in all of the Americas.
The comparsas remain the highlight of Carnival. About 18 of these dance groups, which come from all parts of the island, entertain Carnival goers with well-orchestrated spectacles of song, dance, and gorgeous costume. Some of the comparsas—composed of ordinary people from all walks of life—have been in existence for nearly 100 years. Each brings its own band and pauses at several points along the parade route to present its choreographic spectacle. This usually includes a conga line, whose characteristic step may represent an attempt to mimic the foot-dragging gait of slaves in chains.
Under the dictatorship of Fidel Castro, Carnival has become somewhat more restrained. Floats and dramatic spectacles are often utilitized for propaganda purposes and to ridicule the country's political enemies. In recent years Carnival has been held over two or more weeks in late July and early August and associated with National Day on July 26 ( see Cuba Liberation Day).
FiestaTime-1965, p. 38

Celebrated in: Cuba

Carnival (Goa, India)
February-March; Saturday through Tuesday before Ash Wednesday
In Goa, a region on the southwest coast of India, Carnival is known as Intruz because it leads into the period of Lent. Social conventions are relaxed, and people wearing masks toss cocotes and cartuchos (small paper packets containing flour and sawdust) at one another, or squirt each other with syringes of perfumed colored water—much like what goes on during the Hindu festival of Holi. In Panaji, the capital of Goa, there is a huge parade in honor of King Momo, the Lord of the Revels, on Shrove Tuesday. There are floats with dancers and bands playing swing music, stilt-walkers dressed up as Walt Disney characters, tableaux, and grotesque figures in African masks. The entire procession can take as long as four hours to pass, ending at the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Afterward, there is dancing in the town squares, public halls, and on the beaches, with older people doing the tango and waltz while the young people dance to popular music. The festivities end at dawn on Ash Wednesday, when most attendees head for church services.
Goa Tourism Development Corporation Ltd.
Trionara Apts, Dr. Alvares Costa Rd.
Panaji, Goa 403 001 India
91-832-2424001; fax: 91-832-2423926
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 140

Celebrated in: India

Carnival (Haiti)
February-March; three days preceding Ash Wednesday
Although the official Carnival holiday in Haiti takes place during the last three days before Ash Wednesday, the celebration actually begins on the first Sunday after Epiphany, when bandes or groups of costumed dancers begin to appear in the streets of the cities and suburbs. They often carry a sort of maypole, plant it in someone's yard, and then braid a simple pattern with the colored streamers as they dance to the rhythm of drums. The dancers often travel with marchandes who sell rum, candy, and rolls from the trays they carry on their heads. After the neighbors have gifted the dancers with a few coins, the whole entourage packs up and moves on to the next location.
The last three days before Ash Wednesday are particularly boisterous and exciting in Port-au-Prince, the capital. Almost everyone appears in costume, blowing noisemakers or playing musical instruments. Floats are pulled through the streets, decorated with bird feathers, palm fronds, flowers, and seashells as well as more mundane materials such as bottle caps, ribbons, and fabric. Because the merrymakers wear masks, they feel free to make fun of political leaders and local institutions. Although the Port-au-Prince celebration is the largest in Haiti, even wilder ones are held in Jacmel, Cap Haitien, Cayes, and JÉrÉmie.
See also Carnival Lamayote; Rara
Haitian Embassy
2311 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-332-4090; fax: 202-745-7215
BkHolWrld-1986, Feb 9
FestWrld: Haiti-1999, p. 8
FiestaTime-1965, p. 40

Celebrated in: Haiti

Carnival (Hungary) (Farsang)
January 6 to Ash Wednesday (February-March)
This is the time of year when most weddings are celebrated in Hungary, and when dances, parties, and festivities are held. In some parts of the country, villagers perform the symbolic burying of King Marrow Bone, who represents life's indulgences. Prince Cibere, whose name recalls the sour bran soup served throughout Lent, begins his 40-day reign on Ash Wednesday.
In southern Hungary, masks known as busó that are passed down from one generation to the next are worn during Mardi Gras. They are made out of carved wood painted with ox blood, with animal skins covering the top and ram's horns emerging from either side. Although at one time only adult married men could wear these masks, young unmarried men now wear them, shaking huge wooden rattles, shooting off cannons, and teasing women with long sticks topped by sheepskin gourds. In Slovenia, these masks have dangling red tongues, and the men wearing them run around in groups carrying clubs covered at one end with the skins of hedgehogs. The Busó parade in Mohács is said to be the biggest carnival event in Hungary.
Hungarian National Tourist Office
350 Fifth Ave., Ste. 7107
New York, NY 10118
212-695-1221; fax: 212-695-0809
BkFest-1937, p. 166
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 140

Celebrated in: Hungary

Carnival (Malta)
February-March; before Ash Wednesday
Carnival in Malta includes five days of pre-Lenten festivities, a custom since the 1500s. There are some festivities in the villages, but the main activities are in the capital city of Valletta. Here the traditional events include a parade with floats, brass bands, and participants wearing grotesque masks, as well as open-air folk-dancing competitions. A King Carnival reigns over the festival.
Malta National Tourist Office
65 Broadway, Ste. 823
New York, NY 10006
212-430-3799; fax: 425-795-3425
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 142

Celebrated in: Malta

Carnival (Martinique and Guadeloupe)
January-March, until Ash Wednesday night
Carnival celebrations on the French Caribbean island of Martinique and its sister island of Guadeloupe begin the Sunday after New Year's Day with weekend parties and dances in the larger cities and towns. But they reach a climax during the last few days before Lent. On the Sunday before Lent, there are parades with marchers in exotic costumes dancing to the beat of the beguine, a Congolese ritual dance. Stores and offices are closed on Monday, an official holiday that is spent singing and dancing, with masked balls that go on far into the night. Shrove Tuesday is a day for children to dress up in red-devil costumes and carry homemade tridents as they parade through the streets.
The celebration continues right through Ash Wednesday, when thousands of masked, costumed she-devils (many of whom are men in drag) have a parade of their own. Everyone wears black and white, and dark-skinned faces are smeared with ash. Effigies of King Vaval and his alter ego, Bois-Bois, tower over the procession. That night the effigies are burned, and Vaval's coffin is lowered into the ground.
Martinique Promotion Bureau
444 Madison Ave., 16th Fl.
New York, NY 10022
800-391-4909 or 212-838-7800; fax: 212-838-7855
GdWrldFest-1985, p. 133

Carnival (Mexico)
Carnival celebrations in Mexico vary from one town or region to the next, but almost all involve folk and ritual dances. In Tepeyanco and Papalotla, Tlaxcala State, paragueros ("umbrella men") perform exaggerated polkas and mazurkas during Carnival, wearing headdresses shaped like an umbrella. In Santa Ana Chiautempan and Contla, also in Tlaxcala State, los catrines —men dressed as women, or "dandies"—carry umbrellas as they mock high-society dances. Other dances performed during Carnival include the moros, diablos, and muertos taken over from the Spanish, as well as the arcos and pastoras, which are danced with flowered arches. In Morelos, the Carnival dancers are known as chinelos. Although they were formerly disguised as black Africans, nowadays they wear long embroidered satin gowns, hats topped with ostrich plumes, and masks with horn-shaped black beards.
Carnival in Mexico is known for drama as well as dance. In Zaachila, Oaxaca State, there is a mock battle between priests and devils. In Huejotzingo, Puebla State, an elaborate drama staged over a period of three or four days dramatizes the exploits of the bandit Agustin Lorenzo and the woman with whom he elopes. Carnival is celebrated in Mexico City with fireworks, parades, street dancers, and costume balls.
See also St. Martin's Carnival
Mexico Tourism Board
21 E. 63rd St., Fl. 3
New York, NY 10021
800-446-3942 or 212-821-0314; fax: 212-821-0367
DictFolkMyth-1984, pp. 193, 197, 220, 759
IntlThFolk-1979, p. 278

Celebrated in: Mexico

Carnival (Panama)
February-March; four days preceding Ash Wednesday
The celebration of Carnival in Panama begins on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday, when the Carnival Queen and her courtiers enter Panama City. They are greeted by King Momus, the god of gaiety. The Queen leads a parade through the streets, to the accompaniment of murgas, or walking bands. Sunday is Pollera Day, when the women bring out the brilliantly colored, hand-embroidered, multilayered pollera dresses that are often handed down from one generation to the next. Monday is the day when the comparasas —precision dance troupes dressed in elaborate costumes—compete for prizes. On Tuesday, the last day of the celebration, there is a Grand Parade of floats, walking bands, dancers, and all the groups that have performed or paraded on previous days. The festivities continue throughout the night, ending at dawn with the "burial of the fish" ceremony. A mock funeral is held for a dead fish, which is then dumped into the ocean or a swimming pool.
See also Burial of the Sardine
Embassy of Panama
2862 McGill Terr. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-483-1407; fax: 202-483-8413
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 144
GdWrldFest-1985, p. 147

Celebrated in: Panama

Carnival (Peru)
In Peru, it is customary during Carnival for people to throw water and flour at each other. Sometimes the flour and water are thrown from a balcony on whoever happens to be walking beneath. Groups of young people often stage battles in which the boys throw the girls into fountains or bathtubs and vice versa. At Carnival dances, even well-bred young men and women squirt water at each other from special syringes sold for this purpose. Water-throwing battles are common between sailboats on lakes and in private homes. A particularly colorful celebration is held in Cajamarca.
Although Carnival is celebrated throughout Peru, the events are not as elaborate as those in neighboring Brazil.
Commission for the Promotion of Peru
Calle Uno Oeste No. 50, piso 13th
Urb. Corpac
Lima, 27 Peru
51-1-4224-3131; fax: 51-1-224-7134
BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 37

Celebrated in: Peru

Carnival (Portugal)
February-March; three days preceding Ash Wednesday
The pre-Lenten festivities in Portugal reach a peak on the last three days before Ash Wednesday. There was a time when the Carnival celebration in Lisbon was characterized by sexual banter and horseplay, with battles involving eggs, oranges, flour, and water. But the present-day public festivities are more restrained. People decorate their cars with masses of flowers, and as the cars parade through town, they pelt their friends and neighbors with blossoms while the bystanders try to retaliate.
There are balls, parties, and dances in the cities, but in rural areas many of the more uninhibited Carnival traditions persist. The folía (literally, "madness"), a fertility dance associated with the Portuguese Carnival celebration, is named after the quick and crazy movements of the participants. Mummers and musicians, the burial in effigy of King Carnival, and traditional folk plays are also part of these rural Carnival observances.
Portuguese National Tourist Office
590 Fifth Ave., 4th Fl.
New York, NY 10036
800-767-8842 or 212-354-4403; fax: 212-764-6137
BkFest-1937, p. 267
BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 34
DictFolkMyth-1984, p. 397
EncyRel-1987, vol. 3, p. 101

Celebrated in: Portugal

Carnival (Spain)
February-March; three days preceding Ash Wednesday
Carnival in Spain is an occasion for feasting and partying. Bullfights, masquerade parties, weddings, and dances are held in almost every town and village. The Prado Museum in Madrid resembles a huge street fair, with masqueraders, battles of flowers, showers of confetti, and throngs of vendors. In Catalonia, the northeastern section of Spain, Carnival is observed with the baile de cintas or baile del cordon, the Spanish ribbon or maypole dance. Another traditional Spanish dance associated with Carnival is los seises ("the six"), similar to the English Morris dance. When los seises were on the verge of being suppressed in 1685, they were preserved by papal edict for as long as the costumes lasted. With good care and numerous repairs, they have lasted to this day.
Throwing flowers and confetti at bystanders from blossom-decked cars is another Carnival tradition in Spain. Some towns even stage a battle of flowers. A particularly colorful celebration is held in Valencia, where the orange trees are in bloom at this time of year.
The city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife hosts what many consider the most Brazilesque Carnival celebration in Spain. Parades and musical and dance contests fill the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, when there are fireworks and the traditional Burial of the Sardine.
BkFest-1937, p. 298
BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 34
DictFolkMyth-1984, pp. 105, 178, 980
EncyRel-1987, vol. 3, p. 101
FestWestEur-1958, p. 191

Celebrated in: Spain

Carnival (Switzerland)
February-March; usually the three days preceding Ash Wednesday
The Swiss actually observe Carnival, or Fasnacht, at two different times: in the Roman Catholic cantons, it is observed according to the Gregorian calendar; the Protestant cantons follow the Julian calendar and celebrate it 13 days later.
In Basel, the lights of the city go out at 4:00 a.m., when fife and drum bands perform in the market square. Then members of the Carnival guilds, wearing wild masks and costumes, parade through the streets with lanterns on long poles or perched on their heads, to the accompaniment of pipers and drummers. Frightening masks are also worn during the Carnival celebration at Flums, where they represent such notions as war, death, or disease. At Einsiedeln, "Carnival Runners" dash through the city's thoroughfares from Sunday to Ash Wednesday morning, displaying frightening masks and huge jangling bells strapped to their backs. The masks and bells found in many Swiss Carnival traditions are believed to have survived from ancient times, when people "drove out winter" with loud sounds and frightening masks.
In some parts of Switzerland it is the children who parade through the streets at Carnival, singing and carrying the national flag. The boys dress in costumes that offer clues to their fathers' professions and the girls masquerade as fairies.
Switzerland Tourism
Swiss Center
608 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10020
877-794-8037 or 212-757-5944; fax: 212-262-6116
Basel Fasnacht Online
Glockengasse 7
Basel, 4051 Switzerland
BkFest-1937, p. 316
BkHolWrld-1986, Mar 4
EncyEaster-2002, p. 593
FestWestEur-1958, p. 230
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 147

Celebrated in: Switzerland

Carnival (U.S. Virgin Islands)
Last two weeks in April
Unlike Carnival in New Orleans, Brazil, and elsewhere in the world, where it is a pre-Lenten celebration, the Virgin Islands Carnival is held after Easter, toward the end of April. It dates back to the days when Danish plantation owners gave their slaves time off to celebrate the end of the sugar cane harvest. Although the first Carnival in 1912 was a great success, it wasn't held again for four decades. Since 1952, it has been an annual event in the capital city of Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas, and nowadays the Carnival observance in St. Thomas ranks second only to the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival.
Preliminary events begin a week or more beforehand, and the official Carnival period runs from Sunday until midnight the following Saturday. It begins with the opening of Calypso Tent, a week-long calypso song competition for the coveted title of "Calypso King." The celebrations include the crowning of a Carnival Queen, children's parades, a J'Ouvert morning tramp, steel bands, and dancing in the streets. The climax comes on Saturday with the grand carnival parade, featuring limbo dancers, masked figures, and mock stick-fights between Carib Indians and "Zulus." The celebration winds up with one of the most elaborate all-day parades in the Caribbean, featuring the Mocko Jumbi Dancers. These are colorful dancers on 17-foot stilts whose dances and customs derived from ancient cult traditions brought to the islands by African slaves.
US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism
P.O. Box 6400
St. Thomas, VI 00804
800-372-8784 or 340-774-8784; fax: 340-774-4390
AnnivHol-2000, p. 73
BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 36
GdUSFest-1984, p. 221

Celebrated in: US Virgin Islands

Carnival (Venice)
Begins between February 3 and March 9; ending on Shrove Tuesday night
The Carnival celebration in Venice, Italy, is more sophisticated and steeped in tradition than the flashy celebrations that take place in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans ( see Carnival in Brazil; Mardi Gras). Costumes for the event are often drawn from the stock characters of Italian popular theater from the 16th through 18th centuries—including Harlequin, a masked clown in diamond-patterned tights; Punchinello, the hunchback; and Pierrot, the sad white-faced clown adapted by the French from the commedia dell'arte. There are also traditional costumed characters such as La Bautta (the domino), Il Dottore (the professor or doctor of law), and the Renaissance count or countess.
Italian university students, usually in more innovative costumes, pour into Venice as Ash Wednesday draws near. The rhythm of the celebration quickens, evidenced by a number of spectacular costume balls. The costume ball given at Teatro La Fenice—a benefit for charity—is known for attracting film stars, members of European nobility, and other rich and famous people.
Comune di Venezia
San Marco, Venice 04136 Italy
EncyEaster-2002, p. 305
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 141
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a port in NE Italy, capital of Veneto region, built on over 100 islands and mud flats in the Lagoon of Venice (an inlet of the Gulf of Venice at the head of the Adriatic): united under the first doge in 697 ad; became an independent republic and a great commercial and maritime power, defeating Genoa, the greatest rival, in 1380; contains the Grand Canal and about 170 smaller canals, providing waterways for city transport. Pop.: 271 073 (2001)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in classic literature ?
In one long row, around the great hall, were painted the portraits of the Doges of Venice (venerable fellows, with flowing white beards, for of the three hundred Senators eligible to the office, the oldest was usually chosen Doge,) and each had its complimentary inscription attached--till you came to the place that should have had Marino Faliero's picture in it, and that was blank and black--blank, except that it bore a terse inscription, saying that the conspirator had died for his crime.
The heads were gone (knocked off by the French during their occupation of Venice,) but these were the throats, down which went the anonymous accusation, thrust in secretly at dead of night by an enemy, that doomed many an innocent man to walk the Bridge of Sighs and descend into the dungeon which none entered and hoped to see the sun again.
Of course we went to see the venerable relic of the ancient glory of Venice, with its pavements worn and broken by the passing feet of a thousand years of plebeians and patricians--The Cathedral of St.
Venice reveres those relics above all things earthly.
"Oh, you will have left Venice, for the hot months, long before there are any results.
A few words written on the back of the stone recorded the unhappy man's fate; he had fallen a victim to his great possessions; Venice had coveted his wealth and seized upon it.
The Doge himself and one of the Ten stood below; I could hear their voices and sufficient of their talk to know that this was the Secret Treasury of the Republic, full of the gifts of Doges and reserves of booty called the Tithe of Venice from the spoils of military expeditions.
In a single night the hole was enlarged, and we dropped down into the Secret Treasury of Venice.
Nor could I make complaint, for to disclose my name was to lay myself open to the vengeance of my native city; I could appeal to no one for aid, I feared Venice. The woman put spies about me to exploit my infirmity.
I have spoke thus much, To mitigate the justice of thy plea; Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.
- Love's Labour's Lost; Two Gentlemen of Verona; Comedy of Errors; Merchant of Venice; Taming of the Shrew; A Midsummer Night's Dream; All's Well that Ends Well; Merry Wives of Windsor; Much Ado About Nothing; As You Like It; Twelfth Night; Troilus and Cressida; Measure for Measure; Pericles; Cymbeline; The Tempest; A Winter's Tale.
Ferrari.' The post-mark was 'Venice.' The contents of the envelope were a sheet of foreign note-paper, and a folded enclosure.