The bucentaur (/bjuːˈsɛntɔːr/ bew-SEN-tor; bucintoro in Italian and Venetian) was the state barge of the doges of Venice. It was used every year on Ascension Day up to 1798 to take the doge out to the Adriatic Sea to perform the "Marriage of the Sea" – a ceremony that symbolically wedded Venice to the sea every year on the "Festa della Sensa" (Ascension Day).
Scholars believe there were four major barges, the first significant bucentaur having been built in 1311. The last and most magnificent of the historic bucentaurs made its maiden voyage in 1729 in the reign of Doge Alvise III Sebastiano Mocenigo. Depicted in paintings by Canaletto and Francesco Guardi, the ship was 35 m (115 ft) long and more than 8 metres (26 ft) high. A two-deck floating palace, its main salon had a seating capacity of 90. The doge's throne was in the stern, and the prow bore a figurehead representing Justice with sword and scales. The barge was propelled by 168 oarsmen, and another 40 sailors were required to man it. The ship was destroyed in 1798 on Napoleon's orders to symbolize his victory in conquering Venice.
In February 2008, the Fondazione Bucintoro announced a €20 million project to rebuild the 1729 bucentaur. Work started on 15 March 2008 at the Arsenale shipyard and naval dock.
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