VENETIAN LAGOON ISLANDS
the five galleries above present venice~venezia, and the introduction says: "venice is widely seen as the most beautiful city on the planet - certainly so by this globetrotter!". the supremacy of venice is indeed overwhelming.
however - the lagoon around venice, "laguna veneta", contains many islands. some are towns, such as burano and murano, some former military places, such as vignole. saint erasmo was both. of torcello, once the largest town in the venetian lagoon, only ruins have remained. saint michele is the main cemetery of venezia.
all these places were worth a visit as well. so here are six compact galleries, to provide at least an idea of their special and often unique features.
most historians consider torcello as the oldest settlement in the laguna, even a bit older than venice. it started around 400 a.d. (venice's birthday: march 25 in 421)
in 638, torcello was made an official bishop seat, which stayed valid for over thousand years. the town became important as a trading centre, for some time larger than venice. its population in the 10th century is estimated as about 20 000 people. yet from the 12th century onwards a series of epidemies hit the area, and torcello's harbour became unusable because of siltation. so, step by step torcello died almost completely - nowadays less than 100 people are living there.
two historic buildings have survived: the 11th century church santa fosca and the cathedral of santa maria assunta with a large tower - left and right in the pictures here. both have been carefully restored and renovated, and they can be visited with ships coming from venice.
these churches are especially famous because of their mosaics, which endured, amazingly.
the mosaics, in byzantine style, show a lot of holy figures, and even a vivid gallery of the last judgement. and in santa maria assunta even the floors contain many high-class mosaics.
after venice, this is the by far largest of the towns in the venetian lagoon. many people from venice settled here because it is nearby.
of murano's many churches, the santa maria e san donato is the most impressive one, because of its byzantine architecture.
the core feature of murano is glass making, and for a long time it was world-leading. in spite of modern industrial glass factories, here are still many 'handicraft' glass producers in murano, and they usually accept visitors.
this town is located in the north of the venetian lagoon. it is popular for the very colourful style of the houses, and the boats as well.
the other distinctive feature of burano is lace work. lace pieces are made with needles. of course nowadays industrial manufacturing dominates - yet the lace tradition is still alive
the island vignole was a mainly a military spot of venice against potential assaults from the east.
yet eventually it became a residential place - naturally including churches and pubs.
the former castle on vignole, showing several venice symbols, is now a history monument.
located east of murano, it is mostly a residential place, and used intensely for vegetable plantations (producing for venice's markets).
some forts were built from the 16th to the 19th century - all are now just ruins.
originally a place of fishermen, as well as the location of a monastery, in 1807 the whole island was made a cemetery, the main one for venice.
there are several churches and cemetery chapels there, including the large san michele in isola, which has an usual white facade.
in sum, altogether these six islands in the laguna veneta are as attractive targets for anyone interested in culture as the 'hyper-famed' venice itself, and it's quite easy to visit them!