Venetian Arsenal

Armory and Shipyard in Venice

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CC BY-SA 4.0 / Didier Descouens

The Venetian Arsenal or Arsenale di Venezia is a complex of former shipyards and armories clustered together in the city of Venice in northern Italy. Owned by the state, the Arsenal was responsible for the bulk of the Venetian republic’s naval power from the late Middle Ages to the early modern period. 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 (110 acres), or about fifteen percent of Venice. Surrounded by a 2-mile (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 Venetian Republic to Napoleon in 1797. It is located in the Castello district of Venice, and it is now owned by the state.


The Venetian Arsenal appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Venice!

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Visiting Venetian Arsenal

Hours:

Access is only possible during major events and exhibitions.


Address: ARSENALE DI VENEZIA, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy
Duration: 30 minutes

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