Venice Mestre is within the ‘terraferma‘ (mainland) part of the Venice, and popular among visitors for having inexpensive hotels and fast connections to the historical center.
As one of the six communes of Venice, it is the populous one, at over 89,000 inhabitants. All in all, the Venetian mainland has over 170,000 residents.
Mestre is connected to the historical center of Venice — over the Venetian lagoon — via a rail and road bridge, the ‘Ponte della Libertà‘.
PHOTO: Trenitalia train at Mestre train station, from where you’ll get to Venice (historical) center in 10 minutes.
The origins of settlements at Mestre go back to ancient Roman period, when a Roman fortress was built here, later destroyed by Attila’s forces.
However, there is also a legend related to the founding of Mestre, according to which it was founded by Mesthles, a fugitive from ancient Troy.
As Venice’s importance and wealth grew during the centuries, especially during the 12th century, also Mestre enjoyed from this wealth (as part of Treviso, however), with the port in Mestre being the main Venetian connection to mainland.
When the Scaliger family of Verona conquered Treviso (and Mestre) in 1323, the Venetians, fearing the expansion of the Veronese power, conquered Mestre in 1337, with the area remaining a Venetian possession up to 1797 (when French troops, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, took control of the region).
From 1808, Mestre was formed as a free commune, receiving a title of a city in 1923. However, just three years later, Mestre was annexed to the comune of Venezia.
As part of the Venice commune, it saw a major surge in resident numbers during the 1960s and 1970s, with most of the newcomers working at the nearby industrial district of Marghera.
Today, Mestre is internationally best known for being a major starting point for many tourists visiting Venice.
PHOTO: ACTV bus in Mestre, one of the ways to get from the district to Venice’s historical center.
There are many reasons for this popularity. For example, you can…
- get (comparatively) cheap hotel rooms here,
- connect to Venice historical center in minutes using trains or buses, and
- take advantage of the variety of Mestre restaurants, car parking, supermarkets, and bars.