The State Galley of the Venetian Republic
The glorious history of the Bucintoro

The “Bucintoro” was the ‘State Galley of the Venetian Republic’, used on official occasions by the Doge and by the high offices of the Republic to welcome sovereigns and other illustrious personalities visiting Venice. It was however the superb protagonist of the ancient “Festa della Sensa”, the traditional ‘Marriage of the Sea’, celebrated every year with great pomp.

The oldest written document in which this ‘state ship’ is called Bucintoro dates back to 1252, when Doge Renier Zeno commissioned the Art of the ‘Marangoni’ (ships’ carpenters) to provide for the construction of the ‘Bucentaurum‘, a prescription that was repeated in other ducal ordinances and in writings of ship carpenters of 1271.

An important graphic testimony of the sumptuous boat also appears in the famous “Perspective Plant of Venice” of 1500, engraved by Jacopo de ‘Barbari. Not many years later, in September 1525, Marin Sanudo in his Diaries, writes of a ‘Nuovo Bucintoro’, wider and longer than the old one, which was being built in the Arsenale. It appeared for the first time in the “Festa della Sensa” of 1526: this was the first Bucintoro driven by oars (whereas before it seemed to be towed), in the form that then kept almost unchanged over the centuries. The same shape is portrayed in the numerous engravings and eighteenth-century paintings by Canaletto and Guardi.

The glorious history of the “Bucintoro” ends on 9 January 1798 with a public stake on the Island of San Giorgio, wanted by Napoleon in disregard of that symbol of the hated power of the Serenissima. After looting the gold of the decorations, the hull was converted into a gunboat and then into a floating prison with the name of Hydra.

In 2004 a project was started for the reconstruction of the last Bucintoro. The realization of the work was started in the yards of the Arsenale. The project involved a hull of about 35 m with a maximum width of about 7.30 m. Currently project and construction are stopped due to lack of funds.

Interested in our products?

Contact us for personalized advice

By clicking the submit button above, you confirm that you have carefully read and accept our privacy and cookie policy, our terms of use and the disclaimer.

About Us

We are a Venetian company that produces Murano glass items. We are specialized in glass creations for architecture and interior design. As a sign of love for our wonderful and unique city, the information and services offered on this blog are for educational purposes only and have been carefully selected for quality and reliability.


Texts and images included in the posts are only partially works by the authors of the articles and their properties. Some images and texts are taken from the web and, therefore, considered to be in the public domain. Where possible, source and author are published for illustrative purposes only, in compliance with the law on the “Protection of copyright and other rights related to its exercise”. If their publication violates specific copyrights, please notify us for timely removal. The authors of the blog are not responsible for the content of comments to posts, nor for the content of the linked sites. Please read the blog disclaimer carefully.

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Buy Now >>> Online Shop!

Sign up for our Newsletter

By entering your email address, you agree to receive updates and promotions and accept our terms of use and our privacy policy, including our cookie use.