The palaces of Venice have long excited the wonder of visitors. These grand, ornate buildings seem to float on the water of the city's canals like the sea castles in a mariner's dream. But Juergen Schulz demonstrates that the origins of these residences lay on terra firma, in a widely disseminated building type that, during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, was adapted to the special circumstances of an Adriatic lagoon and the needs of the merchants who were turning this environment into a center of trade. An internationally recognized expert on Venetian art, architecture, and cartography, Schulz examines the city's medieval palaces with scholarship of unprecedented breadth and insight. His book, based in both archival research and first-hand knowledge of Venice, reconstructs the original appearance of the city's oldest surviving residences, such as that of the Corner and Pesaro families, and traces the many later modifications made to these buildings. Further, Schulz's book breaks new ground by presenting a systematic discussion of the use of sculpture in Venice's early palaces, famed for their "exhibitionistic" ornament and scale. Illustrated with numerous photographs and plans, The Palaces of Medieval Venice provides a comprehensive account of the ways in which a group of buildings came to embody the lives of Venice’s leading mercantile families. Schulz’s discussion of the Venetian palaces’ impact on later architecture further enhances the significance of this handsome publication.