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 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...

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...

Gallerie dell'Accademia

  • Museum/Gallery

The greatest collection of Venetian paintings in the world hangs in these galleries founded by Napoléon back in 1807 on the site of...

Jewish Ghetto

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

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

Madonna dell'Orto

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Though built toward the middle of the 14th century, this church takes its character from its beautiful late-Gothic facade, added between...

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 Ducale

  • Museum/Gallery

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

Piazza San Marco

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

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

Ponte di Rialto

  • Bridge/Tunnel

The competition to design a stone bridge across the Grand Canal attracted the best architects of the late 16th century, including Michelangelo...

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