According to Italian tradition, the city of Venice was founded at the stroke of noon on Friday, March 24th, 421, when a group of Paduan refugees gathered in the marshlands off the northern coast of Italy and laid the cornerstone of San Giacomo Church.
Venice’s creation myth was part of a trend among early European chroniclers to attribute precise dates (and sometimes exact hours) to the births of cities based on little more than historical guesswork and clever religious correlating. (If a city’s birth could be backdated to fall on a holy day, its creation would appear divinely ordained.) In Christianity, March 24 is the Feast of Annunciation—the day the archangel Gabriel whispered to the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to the Son of God. According to other traditions: Rome was founded on April 21, 753 BC (day of the pagan fertility festival Parilia); Baghdad on July 30, 762 BC (end of Ramadan); and Tenochtitlan on June 20, 1325 BC (summer solstice).