Sunday, January 17, 2010
With my history of Venice class I went on my 2nd most recent adventure to Torcello, an island in the northern part of the lagoon, that used to be far more important and populated than archipelago of Rialto. By 1000, it has over 10,000 residents. By about 1200, the lagoon around Torcello had become a swamp, all silted up. Unnavigable canals and malaria did it in, and the islands around the Rivus Altus (ri-alto) became Venice. Sadly, this is home now to little more than ruins, with fewer than 20 residence. When building the Venice we know today, Torcello was used as a mine, so almost nothing is left of the city that used to be here. Much of the land has been converted to artichoke farms of people from nearby Burano and Murano.
The one exception to this is the Cathedral, which has some of the most fantastic mosaics I've ever seen. Built around 1080ish, some of the best of Byzantium are on those walls. Climbing the bell tower, I got to see all the way to the sea on one side, and Venice and the lagoon on the other. Unlike every other bell tower I've been in, instead of having just stairs, the inside of the bell tower also had ramps.
Thy also have a large stone chair, that locals claim was the throne of Atilla the Hun. and yes, I did sit upon it.
This image was from http://campus.belmont.edu/honors/byzitaly/Torcello.html, a really good site for info and pictures about Torcello and late Byzantine art.
Posted by Barbarosa at 3:21 PM