Australia the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area; the neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea and East Timor to the north. The population of 25 million is urbanised and concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, its largest city is Sydney; the country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians for about 60,000 years before the first British settlement in the late 18th century, it is documented. After the European exploration of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, who named it New Holland, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788, a date which became Australia's national day; the population grew in subsequent decades, by the 1850s most of the continent had been explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies established.
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated. Australia has since maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, comprising six states and ten territories. Being the oldest and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile soils, Australia has a landmass of 7,617,930 square kilometres. A megadiverse country, its size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with deserts in the centre, tropical rainforests in the north-east and mountain ranges in the south-east. A gold rush began in Australia in the early 1850s, its population density, 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, remains among the lowest in the world. Australia generates its income from various sources including mining-related exports, telecommunications and manufacturing. Indigenous Australian rock art is the oldest and richest in the world, dating as far back as 60,000 years and spread across hundreds of thousands of sites. Australia is a developed country, with the world's 14th-largest economy.
It has a high-income economy, with the world's tenth-highest per capita income. It is a regional power, has the world's 13th-highest military expenditure. Australia has the world's ninth-largest immigrant population, with immigrants accounting for 26% of the population. Having the third-highest human development index and the eighth-highest ranked democracy globally, the country ranks in quality of life, education, economic freedom, civil liberties and political rights, with all its major cities faring well in global comparative livability surveys. Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Pacific Islands Forum and the ASEAN Plus Six mechanism; the name Australia is derived from the Latin Terra Australis, a name used for a hypothetical continent in the Southern Hemisphere since ancient times. When Europeans first began visiting and mapping Australia in the 17th century, the name Terra Australis was applied to the new territories.
Until the early 19th century, Australia was best known as "New Holland", a name first applied by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1644 and subsequently anglicised. Terra Australis still saw occasional usage, such as in scientific texts; the name Australia was popularised by the explorer Matthew Flinders, who said it was "more agreeable to the ear, an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth". The first time that Australia appears to have been used was in April 1817, when Governor Lachlan Macquarie acknowledged the receipt of Flinders' charts of Australia from Lord Bathurst. In December 1817, Macquarie recommended to the Colonial Office. In 1824, the Admiralty agreed that the continent should be known by that name; the first official published use of the new name came with the publication in 1830 of The Australia Directory by the Hydrographic Office. Colloquial names for Australia include "Oz" and "the Land Down Under". Other epithets include "the Great Southern Land", "the Lucky Country", "the Sunburnt Country", "the Wide Brown Land".
The latter two both derive from Dorothea Mackellar's 1908 poem "My Country". Human habitation of the Australian continent is estimated to have begun around 65,000 to 70,000 years ago, with the migration of people by land bridges and short sea-crossings from what is now Southeast Asia; these first inhabitants were the ancestors of modern Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal Australian culture is one of the oldest continual civilisations on earth. At the time of first European contact, most Indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers with complex economies and societies. Recent archaeological finds suggest. Indigenous Australians have an oral culture with spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime; the Torres Strait Islanders, ethnically Melanesian, obtained their livelihood from seasonal horticulture and the resources of their reefs and seas. The northern coasts and waters of Australia were visited s
Augustus II the Strong
Augustus II the Strong known in Saxony as Frederick Augustus I, was Elector of Saxony from 1697, Imperial Vicar and elected King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania in the years 1697–1706 and from 1709 until his death in 1733. Augustus' great physical strength earned him the nicknames "the Strong", "the Saxon Hercules" and "Iron-Hand", he liked to show that he lived up to his name by breaking horseshoes with his bare hands and engaging in fox tossing by holding the end of his sling with just one finger while two of the strongest men in his court held the other end. He is notable for having conceived a large number of children. In order to be elected King of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Augustus converted to Roman Catholicism; as a Catholic, he received the Order of the Golden Fleece from the Holy Roman Emperor. As Elector of Saxony, he is best remembered as a patron of the arts and architecture, he established the Saxon capital of Dresden as a major cultural centre, attracting artists from across Europe to his court.
Augustus amassed an impressive art collection and built lavish baroque palaces in Dresden and Warsaw. His reigns brought Poland some troubled times, he led the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in the Great Northern War, which allowed the Russian Empire to strengthen its influence in Europe within Poland. His main pursuit was bolstering royal power in the Commonwealth, characterized by broad decentralization in comparison with other European monarchies, he thus destabilized the state. Augustus ruled Poland with an interval. Augustus was born in Dresden on 12 May 1670, the younger son of the Elector Johann Georg III and Anne Sophie of Denmark; as the second son, Augustus had no expectation of inheriting the electorate, since his older brother, Johann Georg IV, assumed the post after the death of their father on 12 September 1691. Augustus was well educated, spent some years in travel and in fighting against France. Augustus married Kristiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth in Bayreuth on 20 January 1693.
They had a son, Frederick Augustus II, who succeeded his father as Elector of Saxony and King of Poland as Augustus III. While in Venice during the carnival season, his older brother, the Elector Johann Georg IV, contracted smallpox from his mistress Magdalena Sibylla of Neidschutz. On 27 April 1694, Johann Georg died without legitimate issue and Augustus became Elector of Saxony, as Friedrich Augustus I. To be eligible for election to the throne of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1697, Augustus had to convert to Roman Catholicism; the Saxon dukes had traditionally been called "champions of the Reformation". Saxony had been a stronghold of German Protestantism and Augustus' conversion was therefore considered shocking in Protestant Europe. Although the prince-elector guaranteed Saxony's religious status quo, Augustus' conversion alienated many of his Protestant subjects; as a result of the enormous expenditure of money used to bribe the Polish nobility and clergy, Augustus' contemporaries derisively referred to the Saxon duke's royal ambitions as his "Polish adventure".
His church policy within the Holy Roman Empire followed orthodox Lutheranism and ran counter to his new-found religious and absolutist convictions. The Protestant princes of the empire and the two remaining Protestant electors were anxious to keep Saxony well-integrated in their camp. According to the Peace of Augsburg, Augustus theoretically had the right to re-introduce Roman Catholicism, or at least grant full religious freedom to his fellow Catholics in Saxony, but this never happened. Saxony remained Lutheran and the few Roman Catholics residing in Saxony lacked any political or civil rights. In 1717, it became clear just how awkward the situation was: to realize his ambitious dynastic plans in Poland and Germany, it was necessary for Augustus' heirs to become Roman Catholic. After five years as a convert, his son—the future Augustus III—publicly avowed his Roman Catholicism; the Saxon Estates were outraged and revolted as it was became clear that the conversion to Roman Catholicism was not only a matter of form, but of substance as well.
Since the Peace of Westphalia, the Elector of Saxony had been the director of the Protestant body in the Reichstag. To placate the other Protestant states in the Empire, Augustus nominally delegated the directorship of the Protestant body to Johann Adolf II, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels. However, when the Elector's son converted to Catholicism, the Electorate faced a hereditary Catholic succession instead of a return to a Protestant Elector upon Augustus's death; when the conversion became public in 1717, Brandenburg-Prussia and Hanover attempted to oust Saxony from the directorship and appoint themselves as joint directors, but they gave up the attempt in 1720. Saxony would retain the directorship of the Protestant body in the Reichstag until the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, despite the fact that all remaining Electors of Saxony were Catholic; the wife of Augustus, the Electress Christiane Eberhardine, refused to follow her husband's example and remained a staunch Protestant. She did not attend her husband's coronation in Poland and led a rather quiet life outside Dresden, gaining some popularity for her stubbornness.
Following the death of Polish King John III Sobieski and having converted to Catholicism, Augustus won election as King of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwea
English landscape garden
The English landscape garden called English landscape park or the English garden, is a style of "landscape" garden which emerged in England in the early 18th century, spread across Europe, replacing the more formal, symmetrical jardin à la française of the 17th century as the principal gardening style of Europe. The English garden presented an idealized view of nature, it drew inspiration from paintings of landscapes by Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin, from the classic Chinese gardens of the East, described by European travellers and were realized in the Anglo-Chinese garden, The English garden included a lake, sweeps of rolling lawns set against groves of trees, recreations of classical temples, Gothic ruins and other picturesque architecture, designed to recreate an idyllic pastoral landscape. The work of Lancelot "Capability" Brown was influential. By the end of the 18th century the English garden was being imitated by the French landscape garden, as far away as St. Petersburg, Russia, in Pavlovsk, the gardens of the future Emperor Paul.
It had a major influence on the form of the public parks and gardens which appeared around the world in the 19th century. The English landscape garden was centred on the English country house; the predecessors of the landscape garden in England were the great parks created by Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor at Castle Howard, Blenheim Palace, the Claremont Landscape Garden at Claremont House. These parks featured vast lawns and pieces of architecture, such as the classical mausoleum designed by Hawksmoor at Castle Howard. At the center of the composition was the house, behind which were formal and symmetrical gardens in the style of the garden à la française, with ornate carpets of floral designs and walls of hedges, decorated with statues and fountains; these gardens, modelled after the gardens of Versailles, were designed to impress visitors with their size and grandeur. The new style that became known as the English garden was invented by landscape designers William Kent and Charles Bridgeman, working for wealthy patrons, including Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham, Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, banker Henry Hoare.
William Kent was an architect and furniture designer who introduced Palladian style architecture to England. Kent's inspiration came from Palladio's buildings in the Veneto and the landscapes and ruins around Rome—he lived in Italy from 1709 to 1719, brought back many drawings of antique architecture and landscapes, his gardens were designed to complement the Palladian architecture of the houses he built. Charles Bridgeman was the son of a gardener and an experienced horticulturist, who became the Royal Gardener for Queen Anne and Prince George of Denmark, responsible for tending and redesigning the royal gardens at Windsor, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court, St. James's Park and Hyde Park, he collaborated with Kent on several major gardens, providing the botanical expertise which allowed Kent to realize his architectural visions. Kent created one of the first true English landscape gardens at Chiswick House for Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington; the first gardens that he laid out between 1724 and 1733 had many formal elements of a Garden à la française, including alleys forming a trident and canals, but they featured something novel: a picturesque recreation of an Ionic temple set in a theatre of trees.
Between 1733 and 1736, he redesigned the garden, adding lawns sloping down to the edge of the river and a small cascade. For the first time the form of a garden was inspired not by architecture, but by an idealized version of nature. Rousham House in Oxfordshire is considered by some as the most accomplished and significant of William Kent's work; the patron was General Dormer, who commissioned Bridgeman to begin the garden in 1727 brought in Kent to recreate it in 1737. Bridgeman had built a series of gardens, including a grotto of Venus, on the slope along the river Cherwell, connected by straight alleys. Kent turned the alleys into winding paths, built a turning stream, used the natural landscape features and slopes, created a series of views and tableaus decorated with allegorical statues of Apollo, a wounded gladiator, a lion attacking a horse, other subjects, he placed "eye-catchers", pieces of classical architecture, to decorate the landscape, made use of the "ha-ha", a concealed ditch that kept grazing animals out of the garden while giving an uninterrupted vista from within.
He added cascades modelled on those of the garden of Aldobrandini and Pratolino in Italy, to add movement and drama. Stowe, in Buckinghamshire, was an more radical departure from the formal French garden. In the early 18th century, Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham, had commissioned Charles Bridgeman to design a formal garden, with architectural decorations by John Vanbrugh. Bridgeman's design included a Rotunda designed by Vanbrugh. In the 1730s, William Kent and James Gibbs were appointed to work with Bridgeman, who died in 1738. Kent remade the lake in a more natural shape, created a new kind of garden, which took visitors on a tour of picturesque landscapes, it included a Palladian bridge.
Dresden Castle or Royal Palace is one of the oldest buildings in Dresden, Germany. For 400 years, it was the residence of the electors and kings of Saxony of the Albertine line of the House of Wettin, it is known for the different architectural styles employed, from Baroque to Neo-renaissance. Today, the residential castle is a museum complex that contains the Historic and New Green Vault, the Numismatic Cabinet, the Collection of Prints and Photographs and the Dresden Armory with the Turkish Chamber, it houses an art library and the management of the Dresden State Art Collections. The original castle was a Romanesque keep, built around 1200; the Hausmannsturm was built at the beginning of the 15th century. From 1468 until 1480, the keep was extended by the master builder, Arnold von Westfalen, becoming an enclosed four-wing construction. In the middle of the 16th century, an addition was added in the Renaissance style. After a major fire in 1701, Augustus II the Strong rebuilt much of the castle in the Baroque style.
The collection rooms were created at this time in the western wing. The Silver Room, Heraldic Room and the Pretiosensaal were built from 1723–1726 and the Kaminzimmer, Ivory Room and Bronze Room were built from 1727–1729; the 800th anniversary of the House of Wettin, Saxony's ruling family, resulted in more rebuilding between 1889 and 1901. A Neo-renaissance renovation was undertaken, followed by various modernizations, such as in-floor heating and electric lights in 1914. On the outside of the Stallhof, which links the castle complex with the adjacent Johanneum, the "Procession of Princes" was painted by the artist Wilhelm Walther; the 102-meter-long mural represents the history of the Wettins. Since it faded, it was transferred to about 23,000 Meissen porcelain tiles between 1904 and 1907. Most of the castle was reduced to a roofless shell during the February 13, 1945 bombing of Dresden in World War II. Three rooms of the Green Vault were destroyed. However, the collections survived, having been moved to safety at Königstein Fortress in the early years of the war.
For the first 15 years after the end of the Second World War, no attempt was made to rebuild the castle, except to install a temporary roof in 1946. Restoration began in the 1960s with the installation of new windows and has occurred since then; the castle's restoration was completed in 2013. Dresden castle houses five museums, the Historic Green Vault and the New Green Vault, the Numismatic Cabinet, the Collection of Prints and Photographs and the Dresden Armory with the Turkish Chamber. Accessible is an art library with 260,000 volumes of special literature on art history; the character of the holdings is related to the collecting focal points of the museums. The Gallery of the Electors and the Hausmannsturm, once Dresden's largest tower, can be visited as well; the Green Vault is a museum. Founded by Augustus II the Strong in 1723, it features a unique and rich variety of exhibits from the period of baroque to classicism; the museum consists of the New Green Vault. The Historic Green Vault is known for its treasure chambers, is itself a baroque work of art.
The New Green Vault is more modern. The Historic Green Vault is located on the ground floor of the Dresden Castle and visits require an advance booking; the Numismatic Cabinet, with its nearly 300,000 pieces, is one of Dresden’s oldest museums, dating back to the early 16th century. It contains one of the largest universal collections in Europe, its broad spectrum ranges from classical antiquity to present-day coins. Some 30,000 Saxon coins and medals represent different periods in Saxony's history; the collection includes orders and insignia, bank notes and historic bonds, seals, minting dies for coins and medals, as well as minting machines and equipment. The exhibition is open from April to October, it shows around 300 outstanding objects, which represent a cross-section of the various parts of the collection. The Numismatic Cabinet is a center of scholarly research and has a public library of some 30,000 volumes; the Collection of Prints and Photographs shows work by renowned artists from numerous countries.
There are 515,000 objects by more than 20,000 artists across eight centuries. It holds drawings and prints by old masters such as Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt and Caspar David Friedrich, as well as artists, like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Pablo Picasso. Engravings by Martin Schongauer and woodcuts by Lucas Cranach the Elder are shown along with photographic works. There is a collection of drawings and graphic art by Käthe Kollwitz. Originating from weapons owned by Saxon Dukes and Electors, the Dresden Armory owns one of the most valuable collections of weapons and armory in the world; the exhibition includes around 10,000 objects, including helmets, swords, daggers and maces, pistols and rifles, riding equipment and ceremonial clothes. The Turkish Chamber is a separate collection within the Dresden Armory, focused on art from the Ottoman Empire, it displays more than 600 objects of art from the Ottoman Empire, making it one of the oldest and most significant collections outside Turkey. Between the 16th and the 19th centuries, the electors of Saxony, motivated by their passion for collecting and their desire for princely prestige
Declaration of Pillnitz
The Declaration of Pilnite, more referred to as the Declaration of Pillnitz, was a statement issued on 27 August 1791 at Pillnitz Castle near Dresden by Frederick William II of Prussia and the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, Marie Antoinette's brother. It declared the joint support of the Holy Roman Empire and of Prussia for King Louis XVI of France against the French Revolution. Since the French Revolution of 1789, Leopold had become concerned about the safety of his sister, Marie-Antoinette, her family but felt that any intervention in French affairs would only increase their danger. At the same time, many French aristocrats were fleeing France and taking up residence in neighbouring countries, spreading fear of the Revolution and agitating for foreign support to Louis XVI. After Louis and his family had fled Paris in the hopes of inciting a counter-revolution, known as the Flight to Varennes in June 1791, Louis had been apprehended and was returned to Paris and kept under armed guard.
On 6 July 1791, Leopold issued the Padua Circular, calling on the sovereigns of Europe to join him in demanding Louis' freedom. Calling on European powers to intervene if Louis was threatened, the declaration was intended to serve as a warning to the French revolutionaries to stop infringing on the king's prerogatives and to permit his resumption of power; the declaration stated that Austria would go to war if and only if all the other major European powers went to war with France. Leopold chose this wording. Leopold issued the declaration only to satisfy the French émigrés who had taken refuge in his country and were calling for foreign interference in their homeland. "His Majesty the Emperor and His Majesty the King of Prussia declare together that they regard the actual situation of His Majesty the King of France as a matter of communal interest for all sovereigns of Europe. They hope that that interest will be recognized by the powers whose assistance is called in, that they won't refuse, together with aforementioned Majesties, the most efficacious means for enabling the French king to strengthen, in utmost liberty, the foundations of a monarchical government suiting to the rights of the sovereigns and favourable to the well-being of the French.
In that case, aforementioned Majesties are determined to act promptly and unanimously, with the forces necessary for realizing the proposed and communal goal. In expectation, they will give the suitable orders to their troups so that they will be ready to commence activity." The National Assembly of France interpreted the declaration to mean that Leopold was going to declare war. Radical Frenchmen who called for war, such as Jacques Pierre Brissot, used it as a pretext to gain influence and declare war on 20 April 1792, leading to the campaigns of 1792 in the French Revolutionary Wars. Media related to Declaration of Pillnitz at Wikimedia Commons Pillnitzer Punktation auf EPOCHE NAPOLEON in German. Declaration of Pillnitz audio episode at Warsofcoalition.com
The hectare is an SI accepted metric system unit of area equal to a square with 100-metre sides, or 10,000 m2, is used in the measurement of land. There are 100 hectares in one square kilometre. An acre is about 0.405 hectare and one hectare contains about 2.47 acres. In 1795, when the metric system was introduced, the "are" was defined as 100 square metres and the hectare was thus 100 "ares" or 1⁄100 km2; when the metric system was further rationalised in 1960, resulting in the International System of Units, the are was not included as a recognised unit. The hectare, remains as a non-SI unit accepted for use with the SI units, mentioned in Section 4.1 of the SI Brochure as a unit whose use is "expected to continue indefinitely". The name was coined from the Latin ārea; the metric system of measurement was first given a legal basis in 1795 by the French Revolutionary government. The law of 18 Germinal, Year III defined five units of measure: The metre for length The are for area The stère for volume of stacked firewood The litre for volumes of liquid The gram for massIn 1960, when the metric system was updated as the International System of Units, the are did not receive international recognition.
The International Committee for Weights and Measures makes no mention of the are in the current definition of the SI, but classifies the hectare as a "Non-SI unit accepted for use with the International System of Units". In 1972, the European Economic Community passed directive 71/354/EEC, which catalogued the units of measure that might be used within the Community; the units that were catalogued replicated the recommendations of the CGPM, supplemented by a few other units including the are whose use was limited to the measurement of land. The names centiare, deciare and hectare are derived by adding the standard metric prefixes to the original base unit of area, the are; the centiare is one square metre. The deciare is ten square metres; the are is a unit of area, used for measuring land area. It was defined by older forms of the metric system, but is now outside the modern International System of Units, it is still used in colloquial speech to measure real estate, in particular in Indonesia, in various European countries.
In Russian and other languages of the former Soviet Union, the are is called sotka. It is used to describe the size of suburban dacha or allotment garden plots or small city parks where the hectare would be too large; the decare is derived from deca and are, is equal to 10 ares or 1000 square metres. It is used in Norway and in the former Ottoman areas of the Middle East and the Balkans as a measure of land area. Instead of the name "decare", the names of traditional land measures are used, redefined as one decare: Stremma in Greece Dunam, donum, or dönüm in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey Mål is sometimes used for decare in Norway, from the old measure of about the same area; the hectare, although not a unit of SI, is the only named unit of area, accepted for use within the SI. In practice the hectare is derived from the SI, being equivalent to a square hectometre, it is used throughout the world for the measurement of large areas of land, it is the legal unit of measure in domains concerned with land ownership and management, including law, agriculture and town planning throughout the European Union.
The United Kingdom, United States, to some extent Canada use the acre instead. Some countries that underwent a general conversion from traditional measurements to metric measurements required a resurvey when units of measure in legal descriptions relating to land were converted to metric units. Others, such as South Africa, published conversion factors which were to be used "when preparing consolidation diagrams by compilation". In many countries, metrication clarified existing measures in terms of metric units; the following legacy units of area have been redefined as being equal to one hectare: Jerib in Iran Djerib in Turkey Gong Qing in Hong Kong / mainland China Manzana in Argentina Bunder in The Netherlands The most used units are in bold. One hectare is equivalent to: 1 square hectometre 15 mǔ or 0.15 qǐng 10 dunam or dönüm 10 stremmata 6.25 rai ≈ 1.008 chō ≈ 2.381 feddan Conversion of units Hecto- Hectometre Order of magnitude Official SI website: Table 6. Non-SI units accepted for use with the International System of Units
The gondola is a traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat, well suited to the conditions of the Venetian lagoon. It is similar to a canoe, it is propelled by a gondolier, who uses a rowing oar, not fastened to the hull, in a sculling manner and acts as the rudder. For centuries, the gondola was a major means of transportation and the most common watercraft within Venice. In modern times, the boats still do have a role in public transport in the city, serving as traghetti over the Grand Canal operated by two oarsmen. For some years there were seven traghetti. Various types of gondola boats are used in special regattas held amongst gondoliers, their primary role today, however, is to carry tourists on rides at fixed rates. There are 400 licensed gondoliers in Venice and a similar number of boats, down from the thousands that travelled the canals centuries ago. However, they are now elegant craft, instead of the various types of shabby homemade boats of the distant past; the gondola is propelled by a person who stands facing the bow and rows with a forward stroke, followed by a compensating backward stroke.
The oar rests in an elaborately carved wooden rest shaped to project from the side of the craft so as to allow the slight drag of each return stroke to pull the bow back to its forward course. Because of the vessel's flat bottom it may be "drifted" sideways when required. Contrary to popular belief, the gondola is never poled like a punt as the waters of Venice are too deep; until the early 20th century, as many photographs attest, gondolas were fitted with a "felze", a small cabin, to protect the passengers from the weather or from onlookers. Its windows could be closed with louvered shutters—the original "Venetian blinds". After the elimination of the traditional felze—possibly in response to tourists' complaining that it blocked the view—there survived for some decades a kind of vestigial summer awning, known as the "tendalin". While in previous centuries gondolas could be many different colors, a sumptuary law of Venice required that gondolas should be painted black, they are customarily so painted now.
It is estimated that there were eight to ten thousand gondolas during the 18th century. There are just over four hundred in active service today all of them used for hire by tourists; those few that are in private ownership are either hired out to Venetians for weddings or used for racing. Though the gondola, by now, has become a publicized icon of Venice, in the times of the Republic of Venice it was by far not the only means of transportation. Now, only a handful of batellas survive, caorlinas are used for racing only; the historical gondola was quite different from its modern evolution. The banana-shaped modern gondola was developed only in the 19th century by the boat-builder Tramontin, whose heirs still run the Tramontin boatyard; the construction of the gondola continued to evolve until the mid-20th century, when the city government prohibited any further modifications. In the 1500s an estimated 10,000 gondolas of all types were in Venice; the origin of the word "gondola" has never been satisfactorily established, despite many theories.
Today's gondola is 4.5 feet wide with a weight of 1,500 lbs. They are made of 280 hand-made pieces using eight types of wood; the process takes about two months. The oar or rèmo is held in an oarlock known as a fórcola; the forcola is of a complicated shape, allowing several positions of the oar for slow forward rowing, powerful forward rowing, slowing down, rowing backwards, stopping. The ornament on the front of the boat is called the fèrro and can be made from brass, stainless steel, or aluminium, it serves as counterweight for the gondolier standing near the stern. Every detail of the gondola has its own symbolism; the iron prow-head of the gondola, called "fero da prorà" or "dolfin", is needed to balance the weight of the gondolier at the stern and has an "Ƨ" shape symbolic of the twists in the Canal Grande. Under the main blade there is a kind of comb with six teeth or prongs pointing forward standing for the six districts or "sestieri" of Venice. A kind of tooth juts out backwards toward the centre of the gondola symbolises the island of Giudecca.
The curved top signifies the Doge's cap. The semi-circular break between the curved top and the six teeth is said to represent the Rialto Bridge. Sometimes three friezes can be seen in-between the six prongs, indicating the three main islands of the city: Murano and Torcello; the gondola is one of the vessels used in both ceremonial and competitive regattas, rowing races held amongst gondoliers using the technique of Voga alla Veneta. During their heyday as a means of public transports, teams of four men would share ownership of a gondola — three oarsmen and a fourth person shore based and responsible for the booking and administration of the gondola. However, as the gondolas became more of a tourist attraction than a mode of public transport all but on