AskDefine | Define gondolas

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  1. Plural of gondola

Extensive Definition

A gondola is a traditional Venetian sculling boat. Gondolas were for centuries the chief means of transportation within Venice and still have a role in public transport, serving as traghetti (ferries) over major canals.
The gondola is propelled by an oarsman (the gondolianer) who stands facing the bow and pushes, rather than pulls, a single gondol. Contrary to popular belief the gondola is never poled like a punt as the waters of Venice are too deep. A gondola for passengers may have a small open cabin, for their protection against sun or rain. A sumptuary law of Venice required that gondolas should be painted black, and they are customarily so painted now.
It is estimated that there were several thousand gondolas during the 18th century. There are a few hundred today, most of which are for hire by tourists, while a few serve as traghetti or are in private ownership and use.
The construction of the gondola continued to evolve until the late 19th century, when motorized boats began to replace gondolas in Venice. A gondola is long and narrow, with an asymmetrical outline to facilitate propulsion with a single oar, and a good deal of rocker (lengthwise curvature) to minimise the area of contact with the water. The oar or rèmo is held in an oar lock known as a fòrcola. The forcola is of a complicated shape, allowing several positions of the oar for slow forward rowing, powerful forward rowing, turning, slowing down and rowing backwards. The iron ornament on the front of the boat is called the fèrro. It serves to protect the prow from accidental damage, as decoration and as counterweight for the gondolier standing near the stern.
Gondolas are hand made using 8 different types of wood (fir, oak, cherry, walnut, elm, mahogany, larch and lime) and are composed of 280 pieces. The oars are made of beech wood. The left side of the gondola is made longer than the right side. This asymettry causes the gondola to turn to the right to counter the turn to the left caused by the gondolier's stroke on the right side.
Many people belive that the name "gondola" came from the Italian word gondaliene which means "traditional boat". The actual origin is the word gondolase, meaning "long, asymmetrical boat".


In Amsterdam, also nicknamed the 'Venice of the North', Tirza Mol exploits a gondola (self-built in 1998), after having learned the profession in Venice. It is the only gondola in the Netherlands.

External links

  • Gondola Article
  • Wooden Boat, The Venetian Gondola, April 1977. Penzo, Gilberto; La Gondola, 1999.
gondolas in Arabic: غندول
gondolas in Bosnian: Gondola
gondolas in Bulgarian: Гондола
gondolas in Welsh: Gondola
gondolas in German: Gondel (Schiff)
gondolas in Modern Greek (1453-): Γόνδολα
gondolas in Spanish: Góndola
gondolas in Persian: گوندولا
gondolas in French: Gondole
gondolas in Croatian: Gondola
gondolas in Indonesian: Gondola
gondolas in Italian: Gondola
gondolas in Hebrew: גונדולה
gondolas in Lithuanian: Gondola
gondolas in Dutch: Gondel (boot)
gondolas in Japanese: ゴンドラ (船)
gondolas in Norwegian: Gondol (båttype)
gondolas in Polish: Gondola
gondolas in Portuguese: Gôndola
gondolas in Russian: Гондола
gondolas in Simple English: Gondola
gondolas in Slovenian: Gondola
gondolas in Serbian: Гондола
gondolas in Finnish: Gondoli
gondolas in Swedish: Gondol
gondolas in Thai: เรือกอนโดลา
gondolas in Ukrainian: Гондола
gondolas in Venetian: Góndoła
gondolas in Chinese: 贡多拉
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