The Venetian Arsenal is spawned by the great trading history of Venice. To stay in a hotel near the Venetian Arsenal in Venice is to be aware of the city’s great past. It is also to come face-to-face with its future. The Arsenale was a huge ship-building complex. A city unto itself, the Venetian Arsenal covered vast acres of land. In fact, it covered 46 hectares and directed 300 shipping companies. At its peak in the 16th century, it employed 16,000 arsenalotti. By the 17th century, a deteriorating and humbler city had only 1,000 arsenalotti in its employ. The boat builders, workshops and factories had to go elsewhere to find employment. The once grand Venetian Arsenal had fallen low. The old core, the Arsenale Vecchio, and the New Arsenal and even the Very New Arsenal fell into disrepair.
By 1797, Napoleon had gutted the Venetian Arsenal. He had melted down the cannons and destroyed the docks. Today, little of it remains. The entrance, guarded by 2 brick towers - one on either side, gives a semblance of the past grandeur. Yet, recent moves to revive the former lands have uncovered and revamped the past. The Venetian Arsenal has begun to contribute to very different arts. The Corderie or Old Rope Factory is a performance space. Other sections are being opened for modern use. Soon staying in a discount hotel in Venice near the Venetian Arsenal will provide you with more to see than the statues at the foot of the gateway.
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