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Today Adria is connected to the coast thanks to the Canal Bianco (White Canal), but it was once a port of such importance that it gave its name to the entire bay on which it lies: the Adriatic.
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The history of Adria can be traced back thousands of years. In the 6th century B.C. it was a primitive Paleovenetian settlement situated on the northernmost bank of the Po (the Canal Bianco, or Tartaro). The Greeks, who traded in amber throughout the Mediterranaen, founded an emporion in order to handle directly the commerce. Owing to its strategic position, Adria was subjected to several rules. Later, from around the 2nd century A.D, natural causes led to the progressive filling in of the Po delta, and thus the city grew more distant from the sea and therefore from its role as a commercial port.
Before the onslaught of the barbarian hordes the port of Adria had already lost a large part of its importance, notwithstanding the fact that it became an important military bulwark for the Church of Rome. It then became the domain of the bishopric, and, after a short spell as a comune, property of the Dukes of Este, who resisted the expansion of the Venetian Republic until the 16th century. Venice assumed control after Adria’s decline: it had become a ghost of its former self, a phantom city hovering in a desolate marshland plagued with malaria. Only with the initiation of land reclamation programmes 200 years later did it reassume its importance of bygone days.
Today the city lives from an economy centred on inland. A large part of its culture and history is visible in the religious edifices in the centre, and in the prestigious National Archaeological Museum. Worthy of a prolonged cvisit are both the old and new Cathedrals, the later housing frescoes of the 8th century, the church of S. Nicolò da Tolentino, and that of S. Maria Assunta della Tomba, with its ancient baptismal font, fresco and high-relief from the 1400s. The museum contains evidence of Greek, Etruscan, Roman and Paleovenetian civilisations, and its greatest attraction is the tomb known as the 'biga' belonging to a Venetian or Celtic warrior.