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Mestre is a town in Veneto, northern Italy, a frazione of the comune of Venice. Located on the mainland, together with the neighbouring Marghera, Chirignago, Favaro Veneto and Zelarino it includes c. 170,000 inhabitants of the comune, the islands of Venice proper accounting for c. 60,000 and 31,000 live on the other islands of the Venetian Lagoon.
The city is connected to Venice by a large rail and road bridge, called Ponte della Libertà (Freedom Bridge).
Mestre is the largest city in Italy not to have the status of autonomous comune.
According to legend, Mestre was founded by Mesthles, a companion of the hero Antenor, a fugitive from Troy who founded Padua. The true origins of the city are uncertain, although it is known that a Roman oppidum (fortress) existed here, though this was destroyed by Attila and probably rebuilt in the 10th century.
The first historical mention is from an Imperial diploma by Otto III, by which Rambald, count of Treviso, received land in the area named Mestre. In 1152 a papal bull by Pope Eugene III recognized the bishop of Treviso as lord of Mestre, citing the existence of the church of St. Lawrence, a castle and a port. In 1257 the bishops ceded it to Alberico da Romano.
The port benefited from the economic growth of Venice, constituting its main connection to the Italian mainland. In 1274 a fire destroyed the castle, and the inhabitants moved to a location nearby, Castelnuovo (new Castle). No traces remain today of the old castle.
The Scaliger family from Verona conquered Mestre and Treviso in 1323. The Venetians, fearing the excessive Veronese power in the mainland, conquered on September 29 1337. An artificial channel was built to facilitate the transport of goods.
The Venetian domination ended on july 16 1797. In 1808 Mestre, following the French practice, constituted itself into a free commune. It remained such under the subsequent Austrian and Italian rules, receiving the title of city in 1923. Three years later, however, a Royal Decree annexed Mestre and some other neighbouring comuni (Chirignago, Zelarino and Favaro Veneto) to the comune of Venezia.
In the 1960s and 1970s Mestre experienced a huge demographic growth, spurred mainly by the construction of a huge industrial district in the nearby town of Marghera.
- Cathedral of St. Lawrence (17th century)
- Palazzo da Re
- Torre dell'Orologio (Watchtower, 1108)
- Palazzo podestarile
Points of interestEdit
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