Maybe not all of you know that even in Venice, after all, there are some places where you can sit on a lawn and chat, or read a book in the shade of trees. The one we would like to talk to you about is strongly connected to the lagoon, to the past and future of Venice, because it is located in the area of the Northern Arsenal. Which, of late, has been all in a bustle.
The Venetian Arsenal between history and innovation
The Arsenal was the heart of Venice’s shipbuilding industry – even before industry set foot on Earth. Indeed, the Old Arsenal saw the light of day between 1150 and 1200, but the shipyard became bigger and bigger in the following centuries, so that it covered 46 hectares in 1909.
The amount of work at the Arsenal was sometimes so huge that there could be up to 2’000 workers a day. At the end of World War Second, though, the boot was on the other foot. The Arsenal didn’t have the necessary resources to build modern ships, so what once was the symbol of the economical and military power of the Republic of Venice began its decline.
The only problem? The fact that this decline didn’t cause a single building to go to rack and ruin, but rather 478’000 m2, and the Navy – the only ones who could occupy this area, which wasn’t meant for civil use – occupied only a small part of it.
This is the reason why, in 1999, the Navy granted the Venice Biennale the use of a large share of the South-Eastern area of the Arsenal.
But still, this wasn’t enough.
The public spaces of the Northern Arsenal
When, in 2000, the Consorzio Venezia Nuova (“New Venice Consortium”) and the Provveditorato Interregionale per le Opere Pubbliche del Triveneto (“Interregional Offices for Public Works in the Triveneto”) began restoring the Northern Arsenal, the decay they were faced with was terrible. But abandoning more than 20 buildings dating back to the 16th century would have been even worse.
And so the restoration started, aimed at making the buildings suitable for new activities, as for example the headquarters of the Provveditorato and of the Consorzio. As well as the control room of the Mose, thus turning the emblem of the military power of the Republic of Venice into the operations centre of the system which will protect Venice from tidal flooding.
But wait, there’s more, because the Northern Arsenal is open for visits, from Monday to Friday, from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Besides, reaching it is extremely easy: there are two water bus stops along the way that passes through it. As well as seeing the ancient buildings and having the chance to visit the Naval History Museum and the Ships Pavilion, here you can take your leisure in the wonderful and incredibly quiet gardens with a view on the Arsenal’s dock.