The latest model in Meccaniche Veneziane’s lineup – featuring muscular shapes and a bold character – is indeed a salute to the "Arsenale”, the massive shipyard where the bulk of the Venetian naval power was forged.
Are you ready to explore one of the most fascinating and characteristic places in Venice?
The “floating city” has always been regarded as the lively center of flourishing markets and the enterprising protagonist of the trade scene in the Mediterranean area. But how could a body of settlements spread out on a mosaic of lagoon islands – born after the Huns’ arrival – become one of the mightiest powers of Europe?
Its specific position, at the top of the Adriatic Sea, clearly determined Venice’s destiny.
In order to control trade routes, Venice needed to create a capable and fearsome fleet, which was in fact built by the experienced Venetian carpenters in one of the most iconic architectures of the city: the Arsenale.
Owned by the state, the Arsenale was responsible for the bulk of the Venetian Republic's navy for centuries and boasts the title of "one of the earliest large-scale industrial enterprises in history".
The Doge Ordelaffo Falier ordered its creation in 1104. Later, it was progressively enlarged, so that it occupied about fifteen percent of Venice. With high walls shielding it from public view and protected by guards, each different department of the Arsenale produced a specific module of a ship or other maritime implements, such as munitions, rope, and rigging.
The Arsenale proved to be a critical facility throughout the whole history of Venice, supporting its relentless commercial expansion and allowing the city to uphold the military disputes that came along with it, for example against the maritime Republic of Genova and, later on, the Ottoman Empire. At its peak period, the Arsenale employed some 16,000 people who were able to produce nearly one ship each day on a production-line basis that was not to be seen again until the Industrial Revolution.
After the annexation of Venice to the Kingdom of Italy, the Arsenale gave an essential contribution to the Italian navy and its effort in pursuing the country’s defensive and offensive strategy during the First World War.
Nowadays, this illustrious place is mainly used as a research center and an exhibition venue during the Venice Biennale and is home to a historic boat preservation center.
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