Because of their geographical location, the Ottomans became essential intermediaries for all exchanges between Europe and the east, south and southeast Asia. One of the main European cities with which the Turks traded was Venice, which became the great center of importation of Eastern art into Europe. In addition, Venice was the only historic port where Turkish merchant ships could arrive in times of peace. Until 1566, the Ottoman Empire was not only powerful, but also prosperous, as evidenced by the annual surplus that occurred in its coffers. The Empire was more or less economically self-sufficient, it produced seemingly unlimited food and abundant raw material that native artisans used to make products for their own consumption and export; He also established business contacts with Genoa, Florence and Ragusa. Thanks to the control that the Empire maintained on three continents and several seas, considerable income was also obtained from transport, especially on the spice and silk route, from the northwest through the Middle East to southern Asia.