Venice Sights

It's called La Serenissima, "the most serene," a reference to the majesty, wisdom, and impressive power of this city that was for centuries the leader in trade between Europe and the Orient, and a major source of European culture. Built on and around a cluster of tiny islands in a lagoon by a people who saw the sea as a defense and ally, Venice is unlike any other city.

No matter how often

you've seen Venice in photos and films, the city is more dreamlike than you could ever imagine. The key landmarks, the Basilica di San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale, are hardly what we normally think of as Italian: fascinatingly idiosyncratic, they are exotic mixes of Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance styles. Shimmering sunlight and silvery mist soften every perspective here; it’s easy to understand how the city became renowned in the Renaissance for its artists' use of color. The city is full of secrets, inexpressibly romantic, and, in both art and everyday life, given over to an unabashed celebration of the material world.

You'll see Venetians going about their daily affairs in vaporetti (water buses), aboard the traghetti (gondola ferries) that carry them across the Grand Canal, in the campi (squares), and along the calli (narrow streets). They are skilled—and remarkably tolerant—in dealing with the hordes of tourists from all over the world, attracted by the city's fame and splendor.

Venice proper is divided into six sestieri, or districts (the word sestiere means, appropriately, "sixth"): Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, San Marco, San Polo, and Santa Croce. More-sedate outer islands float around them—San Giorgio Maggiore and the Giudecca just to the south, beyond them the Lido, the barrier island; to the north, Murano, Burano, and Torcello.

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San Marco 12

Castello 11

Dorsoduro 9

Cannaregio 8

Santa Croce 4

San Polo 4

Murano 3

Torcello 1

The Lido 1

San Michele 1

San Giorgio Maggiore 1

Giudecca 1

Burano 1

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Bridge/ Tunnel 1

Building/ Architectural Site 1

Castle/ Palace/ Chateau 1

Cemetery 1

Historic District/ Site 2

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Industrial Site/ Mill/ Factory 1

Library/ Archive 1

Military Site 1

Museum/ Gallery 17

Neighborhood/ Street 1

Plaza/ Square/ Piazza 4

Religious Building/ Site/ Shrine 29

Viewpoint/ Scenic Overlook 1

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Venice Sights

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Antico Cimitero Ebraico

  • Cemetery

You might complete your circuit of Jewish Venice with a visit to the Antico Cimitero Ebraico, full of fascinating old tombstones half...

Arsenale

  • Industrial Site/Mill/Factory

Visible from the street, the impressive Renaissance gateway, the Porta Magna (1460), was the first classical structure to be built...

Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Just past the glass museum, this is among the first churches founded by the lagoon's original inhabitants. The elaborate mosaic pavement...

Basilica di San Marco

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

The Basilica di San Marco is not only the religious center of a great city, but also an expression of the political, intellectual, and...

Biblioteca Marciana

  • Library/Archive

There's a wondrous collection of centuries-old books and illuminated manuscripts at this library, located across the piazzetta from Palazzo...

Ca' Pesaro

  • Museum/Gallery

Baldassare Longhena's grand Baroque palace, begun in 1676, is the beautifully restored home of two impressive collections. The Galleria...

Ca' Rezzonico

  • Museum/Gallery

Designed by Baldassare Longhena in the 17th century, this gigantic palace was completed nearly 100 years later by Giorgio Massari and...

Ca' d'Oro

  • Museum/Gallery

One of the postcard sights of Venice, this exquisite Venetian Gothic palace was once literally a "Golden House," when its marble traceries...

Campanile

  • Viewpoint/Scenic Overlook

Construction of Venice's famous brick bell tower (325 feet tall, plus the angel) began in the 9th century, and took on its present form...

Campo San Polo

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Only Piazza San Marco is larger than this square, and the echo of children's voices bouncing off the surrounding palaces makes the space...

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