Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

What the Moon Saw-Seventeenth Evening

Moon by Ashe ArterberryWhat the Moon Saw-Seventeenth Evening

On the seventeenth evening the moon waxed thoughtful about Pompeii again, but he told the artist about another city. The moon said it was a ghost city. Horses and carts did not go there. The city was once powerful. The city is full of wonders.

The city looks as if a genius and a child might both have designed it. The city once in splendor is now a shadow of what it had been. The moon says the city is Venice.

That was the seventeenth evening.


Venice is a popular destination and we would hardly think of it as a ghost city with our modern-day knowledge of the world. At one point Venice was in decline though. Hans would not have seen Venice as a great place to go on vacation. Hans would have seen Venice as a lonely little place that was classified as a “has-been.”

Venice has been around for quite a while. All the remarkable things mentioned by the moon as belonging to Venice actually belong there. There are winged lions all over the city. They came from Alexandria. For a long period of time Venice was the gateway to the spice route. People traveled through Venice if they wanted to go on to Asia. Venice itself was once something of its own nation. It was made up of islands separated by canals. It later became a flourishing city especially with the spice trade.

Two of the main factors that led to Venice’s downfall was the discovery of the New World and the black plague. Plague went through Venice and the discovery of America made Venice less important. People didn’t have to go through Venice to get anywhere anymore.

Venice is on the Adriatic sea, but from what I found the Adriatic sea is not named for a goddess named Adria, but for a town named Adria, but I could be missing information. The Adriatic sea has less salt content that other seas because so much fresh water flows into it. The canals of Venice wouldn’t be as terribly salty as straight salt water.

Venice has been revived to an extent. It’s a tourist destination. It’s no longer a ghost town, but it’s still sad in its own way. The foundations of the buildings are falling apart. Some of the most-famed buildings in Venice are sinking, but there are people who are doing repairs on these buildings. They probably won’t be lost, but the danger is there.


The moon speaks of Venice as if it’s going to fade away completely. This does happen in history. Cities that were once prosperous can just fade away. They are called ghost towns. I used to live near an old mining ghost town for a while. Cities are often made for one reason or another and when the reason to be there leaves or is lost, the city declines. We are seeing this in our modern-day with Detroit. There’s not really anything anybody wants there anymore. People still live there, but the population has decreased.

We leave ideas behind. We leave cities behind. You can mourn the loss of a city, which some do, or you can just move on. For whatever reason sometimes we as humans abandon a place. The ruins we leave behind are creepy to us. It’s a place that was once full of life and now it’s empty. No one is there. Cobwebs hang from every corner. A place that used to be bustling is nothing now.

Don’t tell me you’re not creeped out by an empty place, because you are; we all are. It freaks us out. A place that used to be inhabited, but is now empty, gives us the heebie-jeebies. Maybe it’s a reminder of our mortality. The first thing we say with a place like this is that it’s haunted. That house is haunted. That old hospital is haunted. That old amusement park is haunted. No matter what the place may be, if people were once there and now they’re gone, we thing something is terribly wrong with that place.

There may be nothing wrong with a place. It may simply be the fact that this specific location doesn’t offer humanity anything anymore so we left. In truth, buildings do fall apart once at an astounding rate once we abandon them. Our presence can keep structures alive. When we leave nature takes over. There’s not really anything wrong with any of this, but we think there is.

We are a bit conceited as human beings. We want to think the things we make will last forever. When we look at an empty place that nature is taking over we get scared. If humanity’s hold over nature is so fragile, what is to say that nature can’t take us over? It’s a reminder that we’re really not as mighty as we like to think.


I want to visit Venice.

Weigh In

What’s the creepiest abandoned place you’ve been to? Was it haunted? Really?

Do you think Detroit will have a rebirth like Venice did?


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