In the early first decade of the 20th century the then Viceroy of the Indian Empire, Lord Curzon made a visit in the State to Alleppey, now Alappuzha. Fascinated by the scenic beauty of the place, in joy and amazement, he said,
"Here nature has spent up on the land her richest bounties. In his exhilaration, he exclaimed, Alleppey, the Venice of the East "
Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala with the unending stretch of paddy fields, small streams and canals with lush green coconut palms, was well known even from the early periods of the Sangam age. History says Alappuzha had trade relations with ancient Greece and Rome in the Middle Ages. The early Cheras, who had their home in Kuttanad were called `Kuttuvans` named after this place. Pliny and Ptolemy of the 1st and 2nd centuries had mentioned places like Purakkad or Barace in their classical works. The literary works like "Unnuneeli Sandesam" give some insight into the ancient period of this district, and some archaeological antiques like stone inscriptions, historical monuments found in the temples, churches, rock-cut caves also emphasise its historic value. Christianity had a strong foothold in this district even from the 1st century AD.
Since landing in Calicut in 1498, the Portuguese started playing an influential role in Alappuzha. They started by spreading Catholicism and converting already existing Syrian Christians into Catholics. The famous St. Andrew's Basilica was built by them during this period. In the 17th century the Portuguese power declined and the Dutch had a predominant position in the principalities of this district. They built many factories and warehouses for storing pepper, ginger relying on several treaties signed between the Dutch and the Rajas of Purakkad, Kayamkulam and Karappuram. In course of time they also delved into the political and cultural affairs of the district. At that time Maharaja Marthanda Varma, who was the 'Maker of modern Travancore' intervened in the political affairs of those princedoms.
In the 19th century the district saw progress in many spheres. One of the five subordinate courts opened in the state in connection with the reorganisation of the judicial system by Colonel George Monro was located at Mavelikkara. The first post office and first telegraph office in the former Travancore state were established in this district. The first manufacturing factory for the coir mats was also established here in 1859. In 1894 the town Improvement Committee was set up.
The history of Alappuzha District also murmurs the facts of the prominent role that the district played in the freedom struggle of the country. The historic struggles of Punnapra and Vayalar in 1946 constrained the attitude of the people against Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, who was Dewan of Travancore. And this ultimately led to his exit from the political scene of Travancore. A popular Ministry was formed in Travancore on 24 March 1948 after India`s independence, and on 1 July 1949 Travancore and Cochin states were integrated. The position continued until the formation of Kerala State on 1 November 1956, under the States Reorganization Act 1956. The district came into existence as a separate administrative unit on 1 August 1957.