Historical notions on the town’s origins

storia di mestreThe very first information about Mestre’s history goes back to an ancient myth that traced its foundation down to Mesthle, son of the king of the Eneti population, who had escaped from Troy with Antenore. 
Although many theses have been advanced regarding the city’s foundation, it is sure that it was initially a Roman castrum, then it became Castelvecchio fortress (Castrum Vetus), witnessed by the recently restored Torre Civica, visible from Piazza Ferretto.
The town’s origins moreover, interweave with the ‘river Mestre’, nowadays called Marzenego, from which it might draw its name.  Along the river banks there was intense commercial activity and the first ports where born: Cavergnago port, on the river’s mouth; Mestre port, along the northern limit of Castelvecchio (Candiani square); St Lorenzo port (now via Poerio), market of oxen (Forte Marghera).

Thanks to its strategic location in relation to Venice’s,  Mestre was under a long period of administrative, judiciary and military domination from Treviso, as is witnessed by the appointment of a captain in 1257 in charge of the local power, by order of Treviso’s governing body.

Numerous were the endeavours of conquest in the next few centuries from Aquileia, Padua andVerona up until the moment when Venice managed to take over.
During Venetian domination, Castelvecchio, literally falling to pieces, was removed and a new castle and town surrounded by walls, the ‘Castrum Novum’, took its place.
Canal Salso was also created, usually called Gradeniga pit, from the name of the doge that demanded the excavation works.  Canal Salso was to facilitate communications with Venice, obviously by sea only, to ensure supply, storage and the transportation of people.
Between the XVI and the XVIII centuries Mestre and the Venetian mainland witnessed the building of numerous villas, properties of rich, noble Venetians, famous residences that are still part of the city complex and artistic heritage of the so called Venetian mainland.
Venetian domination continued amongst many events (e.g. the Cambra league in 1513) till the fall of the Republic under Napoleon in 1796.

In 1806 the independent town of Mestre was proclaimed lasting till 1926.  During this phase Mestre experienced a strong period of development as is witnessed by many public works: the opening of Viale Garibaldi, the establishment of the railway park, the opening of the Terraglio, symbol of the progressive process of absorption of the suburbs and the birth of an actual contemporary city (officially decreed in 1923).
In 1926, during the fascist reign, Mestre lost its independence to be annexed to Venice.


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