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: Veronica Franco: the most talked-about woman in the Serenissima

vf1
Big Names

Among the various Venetian female figures of the past, certainly one of the most interesting and, for many reasons also modern, was Ver...

View

Venice: 10 songs that will make you think of Venice

canzoni-ve
Did you know that...

Sometimes we hear the first few lines of a song and our minds are suddenly transported back to a place, a memory or a dream. We put tog...

View

Padua: Vò Euganeo: a place to be discovered

vò
Unknown places & works

In the last few months there has been much talking around the small town of Vò, in the province of Padua. It was at the center of ever...

View

Venice: 10 must-see movies filmed in Venice

10_film_venezia
Film Locations

Venice is unique amongst world cities and every year it turns into a dream-like experience for scores of tourists thanks to its timeles...

View

Top posts

Chioggia: The Valley of the Seven Dead Men

casone-millecampi-detto-casone-dei-sette-morti
Mysteries & Legends

Halloween is just around the corner: have you already got into the fascinating terrifying aura of the scariest party of the year? No ye...

View

Venice: The stone heart of St Mark’s Basilica

cuore-erizzo
Unknown places & works

If you are visiting St Mark’s Basilica and have just abandoned the wonderful vision of the Pala d'Oro (which is a must-see), just a f...

View

Venice: Map of Venice, what to know before you leave

mappa-venezia
Did you know that...

Did you know that Venice is not a single large island but rather a collection of 117 small islands linked together by over 400 bridges?...

View

Verona: The roman walls of Verona

porta-borsari
Historical Curiosities

Verona has always been considered a city of considerable importance from a military point of view: being at the mouth of the Adige Vall...

View