Hidden treasures

The Bucentaur and the Festa della Sensa in Venice

Local Traditions
Festa_Sensa

The Bucentaur and the Festa della Sensa in Venice

The Sensa Festival (Ascension Festival on the 40th day after Easter) was a very important celebration for the Venice Republic.

During the celebration, a particular ceremony would take place, called the ‘Marriage of the Sea', which symbolized the maritime supremacy of Venice. The ceremony started around 1000 AD to commemorate the conquering of Dalmatia by the Doge Pietro II Orseolo. A solemn procession of boats would take place, headed by the doge's galley, which navigated out of the lagoon through the inlet at Lido. Upon arriving opposite the Church of St Nicolò, the doge would drop a consecrated ring into the sea and with the words ‘We wed thee, sea, in the sign of true and everlasting dominion' declared Venice and the sea to be indissolubly united.

The ship used by the Doge during the Marriage of the Sea was the Bucentaur, a luxurious galley that was kept in the Venice Arsenal during the remainder of the year. The last and most magnificent of the bucentaurs was commissioned by the Senate in 1719 but was later destroyed in 1798 by the French occupiers as a gesture of scorn towards the declined Venice Republic and to recover the abundant gold decorations. The hull was converted into a gunboat and later into a prison ship.

To gain an idea of how splendid the last Bucentaur would look, visit the Arsenal Museum where a scaled model of the vessel is displayed, and the Correr Museum, where the few elements of the sumptuous gilded decorations that survived the flames are kept. The name Bucentaur derives from the Venetian buzino d'oro, a term for a type of vessel called burcio and covered in gold.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Venice: Andrea Palladio’s Tablino at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice

tablino-palladio
Big Names

More than simply the rooms where many masterpieces are exhibited, the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice are a work of art on their ow...

View

Venice: The 'Naval Battle' by Tintoretto at Doge’s Palace

Battaglia_Garda
Historical Curiosities

The ceiling of the Doge's Palace, in addition to being the largest wooden suspended ceiling in the world, is a real trove of painting m...

View

Venice: The origins of the Carnival in Venice

faliero-vitale
Local Traditions

When looking for information on the birth of the Venice Carnival, the first place to head for is St. Mark’s Basilica, the place where...

View

Verona: The Carnival in Verona

carnevale-verona
Local Traditions

When it comes to Carnival, everyone immediately thinks of Venice, but also the other cities of the Veneto region have ancient and charm...

View

Top posts

Venice: The tomb of Doge Andrea Gritti in the church of San Francesco della Vigna

Andrea_Gritti-tomba
Big Names

For the few daring visitors who decide to head to the Castello district, away from the crowds swarming around Piazza San Marco and the ...

View

Venice: Doge Pietro Tradonico and the Island of Poveglia in the Venice lagoon

poveglia-venezia
Historical Curiosities

The Island of Poveglia, in the Venice lagoon, is considered by paranormal experts as one of the world’s most haunted places, normally...

View

Padua: Donatello’s Altar in the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua

altare-donatello
Historical Curiosities

When visiting the city of Padua a not-to-be-missed monument is the magnificent Basilica dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua, a Francisc...

View

Venice: The Secret Garden of Ca 'Morosini del Giardin in Cannaregio

ca-morosini-del-giardin
Unknown places & works

Venice is a magical city for many reasons, amongst them are its many hidden gardens that few are aware of! One of the most secret and f...

View