Venice Turns 1600 Years Old, Celebrations Are Planned

Wed, 03/24/2021 - 04:38
View of the Grand Canal, Basilica Santa Maria della Salute and San Marco Square

On March 25, 2021, the city of Venice kicks off celebrations for the 1600th anniversary since its founding. To mark this important milestone, a number of events are being planned and will continue until at least March 25, 2022, with the goal to highlight the history, the culture and the qualities that have made Venice the unique place it is, beloved by tourists around the world. 

The first official celebratory event will be on Thursday, March 25, 2021, which is exactly 1600 years since the laying, according to tradition, of the first stone of the Church of San Giacomo di Rialto (also known as San Giacométo), Venice’s oldest church: March 25, 421. Historians do not actually agree on an exact date, given the migratory flows of that period, when the first settlers of the lagoon’s islets were joined by Veneto people fleeing the mainland from the attacks of the Barbarians. 

However, March 25, 421 is commonly recognized as the founding day of the City of Venice, as written in the Chronicon Altinate, one of the oldest sources for the history of Venice, and, later, between the 15th and 16th centuries, by Venetian historian Marin Sanudo; in his Diaries, while describing the great Rialto fire of 1514, he wrote that the only church to remain standing in the San Polo sestiere was the Church of San Giacomo di Rialto, “which was the first church built in Venetia in the year 421 on 25 March, as we read in our chronicles.” 

This year, on March 25 at 11 am, a special Mass, to be broadcast live in order to avoid public gatherings, will be celebrated in St Mark's Basilica (streamed on the Facebook page ‘Gente Veneta’). At 4 pm, churches in the city will ring their bells at length. At 6:30 pm, state broadcaster RAI will be paying homage to Venice with a documentary that includes music and photos to recall the 1600 years of Venetian history and have a look at what the future may hold for the city.

A dedicated website has been created, although it appears to be only in Italian and does not yet contain the full program of events: https://1600.venezia.it/.

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