The Bucintoro of Venice the Doge’s boat

The Bucintoro of Venice the Doge’s boat

Today we talk about the boat that gives the name to our beautiful Hotel: The Bucintoro.

The Bucintoro takes its name from the Burcio, a simple and wide boat, used for the transportation of goods. Restyled with sculptures, gildings and carvings, it became the Bucintoro, used as official boat by the Doge.

The name Bucintoro could take its origin from its archaic form Bucentaurus. The myth says that Boukentauros (big centaur) was one of the boat of Enea, in fact ,on the first venetian Bucintoros, seems that a statue of a centaur appeared aft.

Some finishes of this boat are inspired from magical and astrological myths.

The need for a sumptuous craft such the Bucintoro to serve the Duke, can be dated from the 1117´s Benefice, where Pope Alexander III transforms in Marriage of Venice with the Sea, a marine ritual officiated by the Bishop of Castello (Olivolo) since the year 1000 in the Ascension Day.


Since then, the Bucintoro of Venice the Doge’s boat was built every hundred years, changing in size, in number of rowers and the decorative splendour of the Duke in charge. It was a state boat, used to celebrate religious fests and welcome Kings and Emperors.

The Bucintoro of Venice the Doge’s boat.

The Bucintoro of Venice the Doge’s boat was rowed by 168 men, called Arsenaloti, with 42 oars of a lenght of 11 meters. This model of boat measured 50 meters in lenght and 10 meters in width.

On the bow was a wooden and gilded sculpture representing Venice dressed as Justice, with the sword and the scales. Unlike the usual figureheads, this was located upon the bowsprit base, while on the top of this mast was the winged Lion of St. Mark. Aft a small terrace or pulpit from where the Duke used to throw the ring into the Sea during the solemn ceremony of the Marriage of Venice with the sea on Ascension day.

The 1728´s Bucintoro, launched on the 12th of January, was the most magnificient and the most tragical one: the greed of Napoleon´s troops, after looting it of all the decorations, burned it to get the gold and silver of the gildings on the hull.

Pictures of the Bucintoro at scale 1:10 at the Naval Museum of Venice.

At the Naval Museum,a few steps away from Hotel Bucintoro,  (momentarily closed for renovation) you can see a reproduction of the original Bucintoro. Do not miss this occasion!