I don’t know a single person who would not love Venice. It’s unique, dreamy, mystique, and painfully beautiful. If you’ve ever visited it, you would always thrive to come back. It’s heritage is hard to overestimate.
It’s been a capital of the Venetian republic, La Serenissima (that existed for 1100 years and fell under the Napoleon army), it’s a birthplace of Albinoni, Vivaldi, Marco Polo, Tintoretto, Tiepolo, Canaletto, Goldoni and many others. Titian and Veronese created their masterpieces here. It had a major influence over other Italian territories, and the politics of Europe and the Middle East. And you can definitely spend days, weeks and months exploring it.
I’ve already prepared a first list of places to visit in Venezia, and those were:
- Gran Canal
- Rialto Bridge
- Rialto Fish and Vegetables Market
- Saint Mark’s Square
- San Michele island
- Bridge of Sighs
- Venetian Ghetto
- Madonna Dell’Orto Church
- Murano Island
- Lido of Venice
This is the second (and probably not the last) part of Venetian marvels!
11. Basilica St Marco
Basilica San Marco dating to the 11th century is undoubtedly one of the most important landmarks of Venice: you’ll for sure recognize its embellished heavily ornate facade. It’s located right on the San Marco square near Doge’s Palace and San Marco Campanile, and is dedicated to the saint patron of Venice, Saint Mark. Initially it was a palatine church of the Doges Palace and from 1807, after the cease of Venetian republic, it became a city cathedral.
You’ll be amazed when entering the Basilica: it’s all covered in the astonishing gold mosaics inside! In total, there are around 8000 sq metres of it bringing the inevitable Byzantium vibe to this building in Venezia. The mosaics represents the different religious figures and stories from the Bible.
For an additional fee you can visit Pala d’Oro (high altar) and the Museum – Loggia dei Cavalli. Pala d’Oro is the most precious object in Basilica in both historical and literal sense: it’s an amazing piece of art covered with figures of Christ, Evangelists and saints and decorated with gold and precious stones. The oldest part of it was ordered in Constantinople in the very beginning of of 12th century.
Museum – Loggia dei Cavalli is another must-visit of the museum stretching from Basilica’s vestibule to the former Sala dei Banchetti: you can learn there about the history of Basilica, see the original mosaics, manuscripts, tapestries from Byzantium, religious objects and so on. Don’t miss the original quandriga of San Marco that used to stay on the top of the cathedral too! And of course, the views from the roof over the San Marco Square and Doge’s palace are just the best of all Venezia.
As it’s very popular among tourists, I’d suggest you book your tickets online in advance (same goes to Doges Palace) to cut the queues at least a bit.
12. Doge’s Palace
Doge’s Palace, or Palazzo Ducale, is the very heart of political life of Venezia. Doge, of the Duke, was the head of the Venetian republic, and Palazzo Ducale, erected in 1340 in Venetian Gothic style, was his residence. If you arrive there from the water, you’ll surely be stunned by its 14th century waterfront facade.
There are apartments on the first floor where Doge resided and the institutional rooms that played the role of offices executing political and juridical power (including the Great Council, the most influential institution of Venetian Republic, the Senate, the oldest political body, and the Collegio, the Council of Ten and the Councils of Forty, the highest appeal courts).
Today this huge museum consists of a beautiful courtyard, several historical large halls, art collection, armoury and prisons that can be accessed through the Bridge of Sighs. You might need at least a few hours to explore everything not counting the time you’ll stand there startled admiring the beauty of Palazzo Ducale!
13. Caffé Florian
Caffé Florian is another iconic place where you can pop in while visiting San Marco Square. Founded in 1720 by Floriano Francesconi under the name “Alla Venezia Trionfante” and then shortened as Caffé Florian, it’s the oldest coffee house in Venice and one of the oldest in the whole world! Also the legends say that this is a notorious spot where Casanova looked for new courtships as Caffè Florian admitted women too in contrast with other coffeehouses.
Inside you can find a collection of art objects. No surprise it’s pricey due to its history and location, but still why not spoil yourself with a coffee and something sweet on an iconic silver tray while listening to live music? Alternatively you can pay a visit to any other caffé overlooking San Marco and Palazzo Ducale.
14. Galleria dell’accademia
Galleria dell’Accademia is one of the most stunning places for the art lovers in Venezia (don’t mix it up with the Galleria in Florence!). It was founded in 1750 in the Dorsoduro part of the city (on the south bank of Grand canal) and hosts the real treasures of Venetian heritage: paintings and sculptures from the 14th century up to the 19th century including Titian, Tintoretto, Paolo Veneziano, Veronese, Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione, Carpaccio, Canaletto, and Tiepolo.
Did you know that famous Vitruvian man of Leonardo Da Vinci is also owned by the Galleria? And is also hosts temporary exhibitions, and the current one on display is Anish Kapoor’s works. MAke sure you pop in when you’re in Venezia!
15. T Fondaco dei Tedeschi
T Fondaco dei Tedeschi is a luxury shopping mall in the very heart of Vence, just a few steps away from the Rialto Bridge. The name derives from German merchants who resided there. The building of the mall is mentioned in the documents for the first time in 1225 and was largely rebuilt in the beginning of the 16th century after a fire. First DFS store in Europe opened in 2016.
It’s not only a place to go if you’re going to spend money: they have a great rooftop terrace that gives you a magnificent view over the Grand Canal. The visit is free but you have to book a time slot in advance or to book through a QR code on the 4th floor of the mall and the duration is only 15 min (but this is quite enough).
16. Burano Island
Burano is a tiny and colourful island a short ride away from Venezia by vaporetto or water taxi. It’s mostly known for its lace heritage and of course super colourful houses. You need just a few hours to explore each and every corner of it but your time will be well spent! You can check my article about Burano too.
17. Peggy Guggenheim Museum
Peggy Guggenheim Museum is one of the leading Italian museums of modern art whose core pieces were collected by Marguerite (Peggy) Guggenheim herself, noted art patron with a very turbulent private life, an honorary Venetian citizen and the proprietor of the last privately owned gondola in Venice. You most probably have heard about Solomon R. Guggenheim (and the museum belongs to Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation now): he was Peggy’s uncle.
The museum is actually located inside the beautiful Palazzo Venier dei Leoni with Grand canal view and adjacent garden and among the exhibits you’ll find Pollock, Cocteau, Picasso, Mondrian, Ernst, Giacometti, Léger, Kandinsky and many other artists of the first half of the 20th century.
18. Squero di San Trovaso
Gondola is an indisputable Venetian symbol, and you have a chance to visit squero, a place where squerarióli, gondola makers, build, restore and take care of traditional gondolas. In the old days there were lots of them in Venice (you can spot some non-operational ones if you travel by water) but only a few still work today. Head to Dorsoduro district and go to Squero di San Trovaso (near San Trovaso church which is under refurbishment at the moment), the longest operational squero dating back to the 17th century, and observe the masters at work!
19. Basilica Santa Maria della Salute
Basilica Santa Maria della Salute is one of the most famous churches in Venezia. You’ve probably seen it on many images as its dome is one of the most notable landmarks of the city. Basilica was erected in the 17th century as a gratitude for the cease of the plague that struck Venice in 1630-1631. As you can guess, the basilica is dedicated to Our Lady of Health whose celebration falls on the 21st of November and is accompanied by a festival. When visiting, don’t miss the masterpieces of Titian and Tintoretto inside and take your time to have a proper look at the lavish outside ornamentation!
20. Arsenal of Venezia
Venetian Arsenal is the live monument to the former naval power of La Serenissima in the Castello district as the ships were built here behind those huge walls. Its construction began in 1104 and since then it’s been the main industrial part of Venice and one of the largest in Europe until the more modern ships became too big to fit there. You usually cannot enter the Arsenal (it’s owned by the state) but it’s worth exploring Porta Magna (main gate) from the outside: note four lion figures that were taken as a trophy from victory at Lepanto (1571). Consider popping into the Naval Museum or Biennale exhibitions (if you’re visiting in season) around this area too.
By the way, Arsenal was so well known during its heyday, that even Dante mentioned it in Inferno, Canto XXI:
From bridge to bridge thus, speaking other things
Of which my Comedy cares not to sing,
We came along, and held the summit, when
We halted to behold another fissure
Of Malebolge and other vain laments;
And I beheld it marvellously dark.
As in the Arsenal of the Venetians
Boils in the winter the tenacious pitch
To smear their unsound vessels o’er again,
For sail they cannot; and instead thereof
One makes his vessel new, and one recaulks
The ribs of that which many a voyage has made;
One hammers at the prow, one at the stern,
This one makes oars, and that one cordage twists,
Another mends the mainsail and the mizzen;
Thus, not by fire, but by the art divine,
Was boiling down below there a dense pitch
Which upon every side the bank belimed.
You can also like my blogs about Italy:
- photoshoot in Rome,
- your guide to Rome,
- Lake Garda,
Hope you liked my blog!