Finally, after visiting Venice for the New Year Celebrations many years ago and being in love with it ever since, I’ve decided to make a list of gems you must not miss. All the photos come from my different trips in different seasons so don’t be surprised that summer photos are mixed up with the Christmassy ones.
Important: As Venice is my favourite city in the world, I didn’t deprive myself of pleasure of sharing as many locations as I could. So this publication is the first part of “Marvels of Venice”, and there is no gradation of the most to less important/beautiful places from blog to blog and from 1 to 10.
1. Gran Canal
As Gran Canal is often referred,it really is a main artery of Venice, the largest and the busiest canal of Venice. If you arrive from the airport or to the train station and take a water bus, chances are high that part of your way will lay through it. Water taxi, gondola or vaporetto – choose your way of exploring it!
Tip: the crowds are the noisiest around the Rialto Bridge (see below). If it bothers you, you might love to explore different parts of Gran Canal, they are quite picturesque too!
2. Rialto Bridge
Rialto Bridge, one of the main landmarks of Venice, dates back to the late 16th century. Covered shops located in its arches overlook the Gran Canal. I’d not suggest you shop there but still the place itself is breathtaking!
One of the oldest churches in Venice, San Giacometto, is located nearby.
3. Rialto Fish and Vegetables Market
Can you imagine that this market has been there for centuries? Spices, fruits, vegetables, seafood, cheeses, etc – you can find it all there!
Tip: if you’d like to see the fish market, come earlier in the morning. Fish is transported by boats (as everything, of course) to the gondola stalls nearby.
4. Saint Mark’s Square
Piazza San Marco, the largest square of Venice, might seem all touristy, and packed, and uncomfortable, and noisy – but believe me, nothing compares with an early morning there when you sip your (obviously overpriced) coffee and watch the architecture of Saint Mark’s Cathedral and Doge’s Palazzo floating around in the pinkish light.
The most famous cafes are Caffe Lavena (from where these shots are taken) opened in 1750 and Caffe Florian opened in 1720.
In the time of floods, it all gets covered with wooden walkways called passarelle to allow people to cross.
5. San Michele island
If you’re interested in cultural heritage or just want to escape the buzzy crowds, St Michael island is a place for you. As Venice is located on an island, there is no surprise that it has a graveyard that was moved to the outskirts.
But San Michele cemetery is not the ordinary one – it’s a proper historical landmark! Reserved and tranquil, it is just a short vaporetto trip away from Venice is a place of final rest for many notable people including Sergei Diaghilev, Igor Stravinsky, Joseph Brodsky, Ezra Pound, Russian aristocracy, Baron Corvo, Christian Doppler and many others.
6. Bridge of Sighs
Ponte dei Sospiri dates back to the 1600 and connects the New Prison and the Palazzo Ducale. The name has nothing in common with the romantic love and the sufferings of the unwanted love: actually the prisoners were conveyed through this bridge, and their sighs were of a completely different nature.
Interesting: Do you remember the bridge of Sighs in Oxford? Venetian Ponte dei Sospiri is believed to be a prototype – but actually it looks much more like Rialto Bridge!
7. Venetian Ghetto
Former Jewish ghetto quarter at Cannaregio part of the city is one of my favourite locations in Venice. Actually, even the word ‘ghetto’ derives from Venice, when Venetian jews were ordered to live there in 1516.
If you’re interested in Jewish history, don’t miss local synagogues (there are five of them, including the most famous Scuola Grande Spagnola and Levantina), Jewish museum and Banco Rosso, possibly the world’s oldest pawnshop!
8. Madonna Dell’Orto Church
Beautiful Madonna Dell’Orto Church is located on the edge of Cannaregio District. Tintoretto (Jacobo Robusti), one of the most significant artists of the 16th century is buried there alongside his wife and children.
You can also observe his masterpieces ‘in their natural environment’ on the walls of the church: Moses Receiving the Tables of the Law and the Last Judgment are hard to miss!
9. Murano Island
No doubts, that you have heard about the Murano glass, one of the most notable products of Venice! And Murano island is where all the glass makers are located – in 1291 they were forcibly moved there from Venice due to the possibility of fire starting from furnaces.
Many hotels provide their guests with free Murano tours which might be really interesting, with proper demonstration how simple vases or glass toy horses are made. Although some tours are good, don’t forget that their main purpose is to make you buy something 🙂
Apart from the glass shops, there is a Murano Glass museum (I’ll write about it separately), Church of Santa Maria e San Donato with Byzantine mosaics, church of San Pietro Martire and Campo Santo Stefano with its clocktower!
10. Lido of Venice
Lido is a long and narrow island with beautiful beaches in Venice lagoon. I visited it for the sake of the Venice Film Festival a few years ago. Stroll along the Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta, have a glance at the Grand Hotel des Bains and explore the Ancient Jewish Cemetery!
Apart from the festival, Lido is associated with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley and Thomas Mann (do you remember his Death in Venice?).
Hope you enjoyed my blog!