Introduced in Brave New World
Leader Enrico Dandolo
Color purple
Unique Units Merchant of Venice (Replaces Caravan), Great Galleass (Replaces Galleon)
Unique Buildings Canals (Replaces Harbor)
Unique Ability Serenissima:

Cannot gain settlers. Double the normal number of trade routes available. A Merchant of Venice appears after researching Optics. May purchase in puppeted cities.

Bias River
Language spoken Venetian

Venice is a civilization in Civilization V included with the Brave New World expansion. It appears later in Civilization Beyond  Thanks primarily to their unique Civilization ability, the Venetians are a significant departure from the standard behaviour of other civilizations. They are, in essence, a playable City-State, and as such they have several restrictions on how they are allowed to expand their empire.

  • Musical Theme: Rotta Ò Sonata (composed by Michael Curran)
  • Music Set: European
  • Architecture: Mediterranean
  • Preferred Religion: Catholicism
  • Preferred Ideology: Freedom

Civilopedia Entry


La serenissima ("the most serene" or "sublime") Republic of Venice was built on islands in a lagoon of the Adriatic Sea and became the greatest seaport of medieval and Renaissance Europe, the continent's commercial and cultural link with the East. Settled initially by Roman refugees from German and Hun invasions, in 726 AD the citizens of the city rose in rebellion against Byzantine rule, declared themselves a free republic, and elected the first of the 117 doges that would administer the city-state. From the 9th through the 12th centuries Venice developed into a naval and commercial power that dominated the Mediterranean trade routes from the Levant and Orient, from Morocco and Spain. Venetian merchant-explorers fanned out across Asia and Africa, bringing ever more wealth to the city, as well as making it one of the cultural centers of Europe. Venetian seamen would challenge both the Byzantine and Ottoman empires for supremacy along Mediterranean shores. Eventually, for reasons including the discovery of the New World and dynastic struggles among the European nations, Venice would decline in wealth, influence and power. In 1797 AD Napoleon conquered the city, and it would never again be an independent entity. However, since then Venice has held an unrivaled place in the world's collective imagination. The spectacle of its canals, marbled churches, frescoed palaces, and magnificent works of art reflected in the sparkling waters of the lagoon basking under blue skies has made it one of the most romantic locales of modern civilization.

Climate and Terrain

Situated at the northeastern end of the Adriatic, Venice was built on an archipelago of 117 small islands lying in the crescent-shaped Laguna Veneta. The lagoon is roughly 32 miles long, reaching from the marshes of Jesolo to the town of Chioggia at the southern end. The shallow waters of the lagoon are sheltered by a line of sandbanks with three gaps, permitting tidal flow and shipping passage into the city. The lagoon is divided into two zones: the living and the dead. The latter is comprised of salt inlets and marshes formed by the sedimentary deposits of the dozens of small streams and the rivers Po and Piave; the latter is the main portion of the lagoon, separated from the sea by the strip of land known as the Lido. The climate of Venice is temperate, determined by the weather patterns of the Alps to the north and Adriatic to the south. Summers are marked by moderate temperatures, averaging in the 80s Fahrenheit, and winter temperatures in the 30s, with frequent fog and mist. Annual average rainfall is about 34 inches. Built upon for centuries, the islands of Venice have little native wildlife or vegetation remaining.

Pre-Republic History

While there are no records that detail the earliest settlement of Venice, Roman historians indicate that refugees from cities such as Padua, Aquileia and Treviso moved into the lagoon basin, displaced by the incursions of the Huns and Lombards in the 5th Century AD. There the Romans mixed with the itinerant fishermen and salt miners to create villages on several of the islands. The founding of the city itself is generally accepted as the date of the dedication of its first Christian church, San Giacomo on the island of Rialto, in March 421. The city was considered part of the Exarchate of Ravenna, which was overseen by a viceroy appointed by the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople. In 726 AD, the people of the Exarchate rebelled against Byzantine rule at the urging of Pope Gregory II, who was concerned with the spread of Eastern Orthodox Christianity into the West. In the turmoil, the citizens of the Venetian lagoon declared their independence and elected their own leader. Their choice, Ursus, was the first of an unbroken line of doges elected from the foremost families of the city.

A long series of disputes among the powerful families over the role and rights of the doge did not halt the boom in trade for the new naval power. Protected by their fleet, Venetians established trading posts in the major Mediterranean ports, and wealth flowed into the city from as far as the Christian Slavic kingdoms to Moslem states in Spain and North Africa. The increase in personal incomes led to stability by creating a broader ruling class capable of limiting the power of the doge, as well as giving rise to a sense of national identity. Despite efforts by various popes, by Charlemagne, and by King Pepin of Lombardy to curtail or end Venetian economic and military growth, the city prospered. In 775 AD an episcopal see (i.e., diocese) was established on the Venetian island of Olivolo, signifying an accord between the popes and the doges. Two events marked the growing stature and influence of Venice more than any others during this period: the construction of St. Mark's Basilica in 832 AD to house supposed relics of St. Mark the Evangelist (the city's patron saint) stolen by Venetian merchants from Alexandria, and extensive fortifications were built on several islands to guard the lagoon and city.

Venice in the Middle Ages

In the early 1100s, the republic embarked on a massive shipbuilding program, centered on the Venetian Arsenal, a 110-acre shipyard in the heart of the city; within a generation Venice had 36,000 sailors manning 3300 warships, the largest navy in the Mediterranean. By 1200 AD, Venice had seized a number of cities and established fortified outposts along the Adriatic coast in Dalmatia and Istria. A succession of expansionist doges also acquired territories on the mainland to the north, primarily to guarantee Venetian Alpine trade routes and secure a supply of wheat for the city. Having the most powerful navy in the Mediterranean and seeking to control the trade in salt, Venice acquired control of most of the islands in the Aegean from the declining Byzantine Empire, including Cyprus and Crete. By the standards of medieval Europe, Venetian rule of its territories was relatively enlightened, and the citizens of towns such as Bergamo, Brescia, Verona and Ragusa often enthusiastically supported Venice in its wars and ventures.

Venice became an imperial power following the Fourth Crusade. The aged and blind but brilliant Doge Enrico Dandolo "took the cross" and brought Venice into the crusade, which saw Constantinople captured and sacked in April 1204 AD. Before his death a year later, Dandolo played a key role in the subsequent treaty partitioning the Byzantine Empire, gaining new lands and trading concessions from both the Byzantines and the crusader states.

Early in the Middle Ages, the government of the republic took on its enduring form. Similar in many ways to that of the Roman Republic, it was embodied in the Grand Council, an assembly of the members of the city's oldest and richest families. This council appointed all public officials and elected a Senate of 200 to 300 individuals. To handle vital matters of state, a ducal council, the Council of Ten which included the doge, was elected from the ranks of the Grand Council. Common citizens had the right, theoretically, to grant or deny approval of those nominated for the major posts, including the dogeship.


The fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD to the Ottoman Turks brought Venice to the fore in the European resistance to their advances; the seizure of the Venetian city of Morea in 1499 gave the Turks access to the Adriatic itself and insured there would be no accord between the two empires. For the next century, even as the Ottomans strangled Venetian trade with the East and Africa, Venice was locked in a struggle with the Turks for dominance. The conflicts continued until the Battle of Lepanto, when the Venetian led Christian fleet decisively defeated a Turkish armada, in October 1571. Although the victory insured that the Ottomans would not spread into the West, it also marked the beginning of a long decline in Venetian fortunes.

Nonetheless, the opulence and wealth of Venice was still renowned, and the nobles of Venice became the leading patrons of the Italian Renaissance that spanned the 14th through 16th centuries. Already a cosmopolitan city, Venice saw an influx of artists such as Titian and native-born talents such as Giovanni Bellini and Tintoretto, composers such as Gabrieli, and architects such as Longhena (one of the greatest Baroque designers). At the same time, progressive scholars such as Galileo, who taught at the prestigious Padua University, found refuge in liberal Venice's territories. The newly invented printing press spread through Europe during this period, and by 1482 AD Venice was the printing capital of the world; the leading printer in the city, Aldus Manutius, created the first, affordable books, cheaper because of their paperbacks. Even as its political fortunes waned, Venice's cultural prominence waxed. As a traveler from Milan in the 1500s wrote, Venice was "the most triumphant city I have ever seen ... [it is] impossible to describe the beauty, magnificence and wealth of this unique assemblage.


A number of factors contributed to the decline of Venice. The Black Death devastated the city in 1348, in 1575 through 1577, and again in 1630 AD; the latter outbreak killed some 50,000 citizens, roughly a third of the city's population. Advances in shipbuilding and armaments by the nations of Portugal, England, Holland and Scandinavia rendered the republic's war-galleys and trading vessels obsolete. In 1498 AD, Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope, opening a sea route to the riches of the East; Portuguese, English and Dutch traders soon supplanted the Venetians in Europe's economy. Meanwhile, Spain was bringing more wealth from the New World than Venice could hope to match. As Spain, France and the Holy Roman Empire fought for hegemony over the Italian peninsula, Venice's political influence dwindled, even as military matters drained the republic's coffers.

By 1508 AD, these powers - together with the Papacy, Hungarians, Savoyards and Ferrarese - made common cause in the League of Cambrai against the long Venetian dominance of the Mediterranean. Although the republic was saved from complete defeat by internal bickering in the league, most of its mainland holdings were lost. Although the victory at Lepanto bolstered Venice's international reputation for a period, the battle caused the Turks to turn back to complete their slow conquest of the Eastern Mediterranean. After a four-year campaign, in 1669, Venice lost Crete, its last holding east of Italy. Although a successful campaign to re-establish itself in the east was culminated with the liberation of Morea, the effort proved exhobitant in terms of both lives and money; in 1718, the hard-won territories were returned to the Ottomans in exchange for trading concessions.

For the next decades, the republic stagnated, living on the memories of past glory. A succession of ineffectual doges left Venice isolated politically, economically and diplomatically. The tides of the French Revolution would finally sweep it away. Napoleon, ever ruthlessly practical in matters military, claimed that the city-state was a threat to his line of retreat during the Austrian campaign of 1797. The Peace of Leoben that resulted from Austria's defeat left Venice without a viable ally to resist French demands; in May 1797, the last doge, Ludovico Manin, was deposed at Napoleon's insistence. Later that same year, the city was ceded to Austria by France in the Treaty of Campo Formio.

After the Republic

In 1848 AD, the city was briefly a provisional republic again in the wake of the revolutions that swept through Europe. However, it fell to Austrian forces again the following year. In 1866, following the defeat of Austria by the Prussians, Venice was transferred to Italy, which had become a unified country five years previously. Henceforth, Venice's fortunes would be tied to that of Italy through world wars, fascism, the Cold War and the European Union. Nonetheless, the Republic of Venice remains the longest-lived democratic republic in the history of the world.

Venetian Factoids

  • Most of the compositions of Antonio Vivaldi, known as the "Red Priest" and a virtuoso violinist, were written for the Baroque female ensemble of the Ospedale della Pieta, a convent-orphanage and music school in his native Venice.
  • The title "doge" in the local dialect is a corruption of the Latin dux ("leader"); the English equivalent would be the term "duke," although the powers and rights were never equivalent, not the least because the former was elected and the latter hereditary.
  • At the heart of Venice's economy in the Medieval Age was the colleganza, a form of joint-stock company created by a merchant to finance a single, lengthy expedition; these ventures allowed daring entrepreneurs - even artisans, craftsmen, widows, commoners and students - to have the possibility to enjoy high profits from successful trading ventures.

List of Cities

Venice's cities are actually Italian cities (since there is no Italy and vnice is italian)

  1. Venice
  2. Milan
  3. Naples
  4. Turin
  5. Palermo
  6. Genoa
  7. Florence
  8. Bari
  9. Catania
  10. Verona
  11. Messina
  12. Padua
  13. Trieste
  14. Taranto
  15. Brescia
  16. Prato
  17. Reggio Calabria
  18. Modena
  19. Parma
  20. Perugia
  21. Reggio Emilia
  22. Livorno
  23. Ravenna
  24. Cagliari
  25. Foggia
  26. Rimini
  27. Salerno
  28. Ferrara
  29. Sassari
  30. Syracuse