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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Museum/ Gallery 17

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Plaza/ Square/ Piazza 4

Religious Building/ Site/ Shrine 29

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Venice Sights

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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...

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 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;...

Museo Archeologico

  • Museum/Gallery

Venice is the only major Italian city without an ancient past, yet it hosts a collection of ancient art second in Italy only to those...

Museo Correr

  • Museum/Gallery

This museum of Venetian art and history contains an important sculpture collection by Antonio Canova and important paintings by Giovanni...

Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo

  • Building/Architectural Site

Easy to miss despite its vicinity to Piazza San Marco, this Renaissance-Gothic palace is accessible only through a narrow backstreet...

Palazzo Ducale

  • Museum/Gallery

Rising majestically above the Piazzetta San Marco, this Gothic fantasia of pink-and-white marble is a majestic expression of Venetian...

Palazzo Grassi

  • Museum/Gallery

Built between 1748 and 1772 by Giorgio Massari for a Bolognese family, this palace is one of the last of the great noble residences on...

Piazza San Marco

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

One of the world's most beautiful squares, Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark's Square) is spiritual and artistic heart of Venice, a vast open...

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