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

House/ Mansion/ Villa 1

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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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...

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...

Campo Santo Stefano

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

In Venice's most prestigious residential neighborhood, you'll find one of the city's busiest crossroads just over the Accademia Bridge;...

Chiesa della Pietà

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Unwanted babies were left on the steps of this religious institute, founded by a Franciscan friar in 1346. The girls were immediately...

Chiesa di San Pietro Martire

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

You'll pass this church just before you reach Murano's Grand Canal (a little more than 800 feet from the landing). Reconstructed in 1511,...

Chiostro di Sant'Apollonia

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Behind the basilica and over a bridge, a short fondamenta leads right toward the unassuming entrance of the Museo Diocesano (upstairs),...

Gesuati

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

When the Dominicans took over the church of Santa Maria della Visitazione from the suppressed order of Gesuati laymen in 1668, Giorgio...

Gesuiti

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

The interior walls of this early-18th-century church (1715–30) resemble brocade drapery, and only touching them will convince skeptics...

Jewish Ghetto

  • Neighborhood/Street

The neighborhood that gave the world the word ghetto is today a quiet neighborhood surrounding a large campo. It is home to Jewish...

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