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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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...

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...

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...

Museo Ebraico

  • Museum/Gallery

The small but well-arranged museum highlights centuries of Venetian Jewish culture with splendid silver Hanukkah lamps and Torahs, and...

Museo Storico Navale

  • Museum/Gallery

The boat collection here includes scale models such as the doges' ceremonial Bucintoro, and full-size boats such as Peggy Guggenheim's...

Museo del Merletto

  • Museum/Gallery

Here's the place to marvel at the intricacies of Burano's lace making. The lace-making museum will likely continue to host a "sewing...

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