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Venice, mistress of the seas and master of mercantile trade, was “Byzantium’s favourite daughter”. It was also the first Western power to sign a peace treaty with the Ottomans, in 1479, 27 years after their conquest of Constantinople. To reinforce the relationship, Gentile Bellini was sent to Constantinople to paint Mehmet II, the Conqueror, and his court. “Being merchants,” one Venetian ambassador said, “we cannot live without them.” In spite of intermittent hostilities, the feeling was mutual and the trade in luxury items influenced both cultures: this was where the Silk Road arrived in Europe. The Natural History Museum of Venice is housed in the Fondaco dei Turchi, a large Veneto-Byzantine palazzo on the Grand Canal built in the early 13th century by Giacomo Palmier. From the early 17th century until 1838, it served as a residence and market place for Venice's Ottoman Turkish population.
In 2019 Venice announced the opening of the city's first permanent arts district, on the island of Giudecca, in time to host many of the artists in the 58th Biennale.
Venice Marco Polo Airport is 13km from the city centre and there are regular buses. Big spenders take a water taxi.
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