Venetian Arsenal

Venice, Italy

The Venetian Arsenal is a complex of former shipyards and armories clustered together in the city of Venice. Owned by the state, the Arsenal was responsible for the bulk of the Venetian republic's naval power during the centuries. It was one of the earliest large-scale industrial enterprises in history.

Construction of the Arsenal began around 1104, during Venice's republican era. It became the largest industrial complex in Europe before the Industrial Revolution, spanning an area of about 45 hectares, or about fifteen percent of Venice. Surrounded by a 3.2 km rampart, laborers and shipbuilders regularly worked within the Arsenal, building ships that sailed from the city's port. With high walls shielding the Arsenal from public view and guards protecting its perimeter, different areas of the Arsenal each produced a particular prefabricated ship part or other maritime implement, such as munitions, rope, and rigging. These parts could then be assembled into a ship in as little as one day. An exclusive forest owned by the Arsenal navy, in the Montello hills area of Veneto, provided the Arsenal's wood supply.

The Arsenal produced the majority of Venice's maritime trading vessels, which generated much of the city's economic wealth and power, lasting until the fall of the republic to Napoleon's conquest of the area in 1797.

Significant parts of the Arsenal were destroyed under Napoleonic rule, and later rebuilt to enable the Arsenal's present use as a naval base. It is also 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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Castello 2389, Venice, Italy
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Founded: 1104
Category: Industrial sites in Italy


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Greg Powers (8 months ago)
Both the beauty and scale of the Venetian Arsenal is amazing. The bridge between the two towers with the canal below is iconic Venice. Wonderful place to visit in the early morning before many people are out. I visited just before sunrise.
Δημητρης Μπουκλας (9 months ago)
Very beautiful sight. The lions are Ancient Greek plundered from Piraeus. Unfortunately it’s a military zone as well and you can’t enter it.
Ellie Handberg (9 months ago)
A cool place just to wander around and explore. Still an active military base so access is a bit restricted. If you’re wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of crowded laneways, this is a nice way to do it and also get some of the breeze. There’s a free boat that takes you across the water which makes things easier, and lots of cats in the surrounding area.
Chris Ward (11 months ago)
Nice to look at from the outside but the facility is still in use by the military, so access is very restricted to a couple of exhibitions which are on other topics. So by all means go have a look, but don't expect to be let in!
Gin Woo Peixun (12 months ago)
We didn’t visit the exhibition, but it was worth wandering around this historical shipyard that used to be the heart of maritime warfare. It used to build one ship a day during the peak era of Venice’s naval powers!
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