Gondolas

A Practical Boat for Romantic Venice

The gondola originated in Venice, Italy, that magical city situated on a series of six islands at the edge of the Adriatic Sea. The “streets” of Venice are waterways, making boats the official transportation choice.

Of all the differing watercrafts in Venice, the gondola is the most well-known. It is an ancient row boat, evolving over the last 1,000 years to become the sleek, graceful shape you see today. Its unique, asymmetrical design allows just one oarsman to navigate the narrow Venetian waterways using a single oar.

Brief History of the Gondola

1094
A boat called a gondola is mentioned in a letter from a Venetian Republic official.
1490s
Gondolas appear in Italian paintings by Carpaccio and Bellini. Interestingly, the manner of rowing depicted is the same as that used by gondoliers today.
1500s
Gondolas are fashioned with the ornate ornamentation popular in the Baroque period. In addition to the fanciful ironwork, gondola design also takes on a broader stern and an increase in rocker at the boat's bottom, improving its position in the water and the gondolier's steering position. There are also stories of the gondola proving its seaworthiness by being rowed into battle on the Adriatic Sea.
1600s
Gondola popularity soars, with an estimated 10,000 gondolas being rowed around Venice.
1768
A precise architectural drawing of a gondola is created by a naval artist. From this work we know that the 18th century gondola has almost the same dimensions as the gondolas we row today, except the design is still symmetrical.
end of the 1800s
The element of asymmetry is brought to the gondola design, making the boat perfect in the eyes of gondoliers. Unfortunately, at the same time the gondola reaches perfection, steam-powered boats reach the waterways of Venice. The usage of gondolas begins to decline.
2000
John Kerschbaum brings his first authentic gondola to the waters of Stillwater, Minnesota.
2001
Gondola Romantica/Gondola on St. Croix begins to row lovers along the St. Croix River in Stillwater.
2001+
The romantic, historic experience of a gondola cruise continues in the Midwest, far from the Venetian waterways of Italy.

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