Bucintoro at the Molo on Ascension Day
The Venetian state barge, called the Bucintoro, represented the splendour and power of the Republic of Venice in Italy. For hundreds of years on Ascension Day (a Christian holiday that commemorates the ascension of Christ into heaven forty days after his resurrection), this ship was used to take the Doge (the leader and chief magistrate of Venice) out into the Adriatic Sea to perform the 'Marriage of the Sea’. During this ceremony, the Doge cast a gold ring into the water, symbolising Venice’s connections and power over the sea and commemorating their maritime victories and economic supremacy.
Among the most magnificent ships ever built, the entire length of the Bucintoro (thirty-five metres) was covered in gold leaf. Here, the barge is about to dock at the quay, or Molo, near Piazza San Marco. Thousands gather along the canals to witness this ceremony, shop at the market stalls set up in the Piazza and celebrate this two-fold – religious and political – holiday.