TheGrand Canal's newest bridge (the Calatrava Bridge) opened
in 2008 and has been the subject of great debate among the city's
residents ever since.
See our Venice
for its location.
Offering scenic canals, beautiful buildings and world famous landmarks, Venice
is an experience unique in the world of travel. The city seems to exude romance,
history, and fantastic photo opportunities, almost at every corner. Good
food (non-touristy) is a little harder to find, but available for those willing
to seek recommendations.
Exploring Venice is an experience that you will never forget. Whether
taking a gondola down a cozy canal or examining this romantic city's unique
setting and architecture while on foot, you will find Venice inviting and
Piazza San Marco
- Most tourists make a beeline for the Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark's
Square, also known as the Piazetta), a large, broad public square.
St. Mark's is the main meeting place in Venice and host to the most
well-known attractions in tourist Venice. As you land at the dock of St,
Mark's, you will see two columns. One is crowned with Saint Theodore, the
patron saint of Venice, while the other is topped with the Lion of St. Mark.
- St. Mark’s is the only area with the name "Square" in Venice, the areas
that one might be tempted to call squares are known as "campo".
- Piazza San Marco is one of the lowest areas of Venice and may flood
during higher tides (this problem is common in the winter and early spring).
Except for unusual circumstance, the change of the tide solves the flooding
problem, often in a few hours.
- Saint Mark's Square is normally crowded, both with tourists and the
ever-present flocks of pigeons and there are few times in summer that it
will not appear carnival-like. However, in order to see the treasures that
can be found here, you will have to negotiate the crowds, pigeons and
- On the Piazza San Marco, you will find St. Mark’s Cathedral, the Doge’s
Palace, the Campanile and several museums. We cover these attractions
below. Most of the attractions found on this large plaza have been
memorialized in travel brochures and visiting will generate a sense of
déjà vu in most visitors.
- The Piazza San Marco is a public square and open year round, although
its attractions are open on more restricted schedules.
- Note - The exterior of St. Mark's and other buildings around the
square are being renovated. Several sections of this ornate church are
now hidden behind scaffolding covered with sheathing, as are sections of the
adjacent Clock Tower If you were hoping for a beautiful photo of St.
Mark's, you will have to wait for you next visit. It is not yet
clear how long or extensive the much needed renovations will require.
St. Mark's Basilica
- St. Mark's Basilica was built to house the reliquary of St. Mark and the
saint's tomb is the focus of the cathedral. Venetian merchants in
reportedly smuggled St. Mark's body out of Egypt in the 9th century, packed
in pork to avoid searches by the port inspectors who, of course, practiced
Islam, a religion that considers pig and its by-products to be "unclean".
- A number of churches occupied this site before the present basilica was
constructed at the end of the 11th century. St. Mark's Basilica has
one of the most unique architectures of any church in Italy. Various
of its elements were contributed from Byzantine, Romanesque or Arabesque
styles of architecture and combined into an extremely pleasant and
- The cathedral's arched doorways and replicas of four bronze horses (the
originals were captured during the Fourth Crusade and removed from
Byzantium) welcome the visitor. Examine the mosaics above the doors and then
enter to see the cathedral.
- Be sure to see the various chapels, the Sanctuary, the Treasury and the
Museo (where the original horse statues from Byzantium are on display).
- St. Marks is open all year - Monday through Saturday and on Sunday
afternoons after services.
- For more information, visit the official website of the
- The original Campanile, which was visited by Galileo in the 17th
century, collapsed during repair work in 1902 and the present structure
was rebuilt in 1912. You can climb to the top for a nice view of the
Piazza, St. Mark's and the Doge's Palace. The Campanile is the tallest
structure in Venice.
- The Campanile is open year around, but has shorter winter hours and
is closed for a brief maintenance every January.
also known as Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace)
- The Doges (dukes) ruled Venice and the Palazzo Ducale, serving as
both the Doge's Palace and the seat of government, was Venice's center
of power until the Venetian Republic ended in the 18th century. A tour
of the building reveals the historic grandeur that accrued to Venice in
its role as a major sea power and the mercantile center of the
- The current Palace was started in the 10thcentury, later rebuilt and
finalized in the fourteenth century. It was damaged by fire in the 16th
century when many historically important items were destroyed. Previous
to the 10th century other buildings formed the Palazzo, but little
factual information about them is known.
- The Duke's Palace (Palazzo Ducale) contains numerous treasures of
the art world. The decorations are extraordinary and include works by
the master artists of the Venetian Republica. Be sure to examine the
works of Tintoretto and Veronese.
- The Musello dell'Opera on the ground floor includes the original
capitals from the columns of the building, as well as other interesting
items, but is not a must-see attraction.
- The Doge's Palace is open year round but operates on a shorter
schedule in winter.
Bridge of Sighs, best seen from the canal that connects the Doges Palace
to its former dungeon. It is said that the bridge was so named
because those floating beneath it could hear the sighs of the criminals
crossing the bridge to an unpleasant future.
- See the Museum's
for more information.
- In the Napoleon wing of the Piazza San Marco, you will find the
Museo Correr. The Museo houses a sizable collection of Venetian
art and artifacts from medieval and Renaissance times. You will see a
lot of the similar art in the major museum venues of Venice, so be sure
you want to see more before entering. (The ticket for this museum
includes entrance to the Doge's Palace).
- The Museo Correr is open all year, but its schedule features shorter
operating hours during the winter. See the Museum's
for more information.
Grand Canal /Canalazzo
- The famous waterway is approximately two-miles long and faced with
impressive palaces that were owned by the city's wealthy seafaring
merchants. Take the Vaporetto and tour during the day and night
to see the real beauty of the Grand Canal.
The Rialto Bridge
provides a good land view of the Grand Canal and is the center of
commerce in modern day Venice. Look for the local markets selling
vegetables and other foods.
just north of Venice, this island is famous for its glass arts and
glassblowers. If you are interested in the art of glassmaking, visit the
Museo del Vetro (if you have a Venice Museum Pass, you can use it here
as well). Most of the glass shops are open daily. Prices are at a
premium, but there are few places you can find a bargain in Venice.
for its lace shops, most of which are open daily, some closed on Sunday.
Look closely to make sure you are buying Italian lace, as many varieties
of lace, including imports from China, are available here. The island
houses a lace museum that is open Tuesday through Fridays.
Other churches to visit
Other Interesting Museums
(Open year around - closed Tuesdays and some holidays).
- If you looking for a glimpse of how the other half lives, visit
the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. It is filled with European and
American art from the first half of the 20th century and includes
the personal collection of Guggenheim. The museum is housed in Peggy
Guggenheim's former home, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, on the Grand
Canal. For more information, see this
The Gallerie dell'Accademia
year round -closed Mondays and some holidays)
- The Accademia houses an incredible art collection that
chronicles the history of Venetian artists, including works by the
major Venetian Masters. The Museum is very popular and we recommend
that you reserve tickets in advance.
- The Accademia is located close to the Guggenheim, which is on
the Grand Canal opposite Piazza San Marco. You may want to
combine visits to the two museums (but only if you really like art).
For details on visiting, see this
(in Italian, so use Google Translator).
- While in this area (the Dorsoduro District), you should consider
visiting the Campo Santa Margherita, another of Venice’s lovely
- The Campo Santa Margherita
the social center of the Dorsoduro area of Venice. The square in
combination with its surrounding buildings, which are a mix of
residences, restaurants, bars and shops, is a nice place to stop
and seek respite from the crowds of tourist Venice.
- The Teatro La Fenice
- The Fenice Theater is Venice's famed opera house that has
suffered several cataclysms in the past. More recently it was
destroyed by a fire in 2001 and only recently reopened. It is
a gorgeous theater and you can see by taking a tour or arranging to
attend a concert. See the
for more information about the theater.
- The Fenice can be reached by taking Waterbus #1 and exiting
at the stop for Santa Maria del Giglio.
- You may have read about the fire and its aftermath in John
Berendt's "City of Fallen Angels". It is a book worth
reading, especially if you plan to spend a few days in Venice.
Return to the Best Places to Visit in Italy
The official tourism website for the city of Venice is
Turismo Venezia. The site includes additional information on
our recommended best places to visit, as well as details on locations
that did not make our list.
If your are looking for country facts or travel information on Italy including
passports, visas, consideration for driving, personal safety, health
issues, etc., see the U.S. State Department Consular Affairs page on
traveling in Italy for these details.
If you need to find information about another travel destination, try Googling
our site or the Web
The Piazza San Marco and Saint Mark's Cathedral
One of the elaborate and beautiful entrances to Saint Mark's
Is Venice Sinking?
Yes, Venice is sinking and the sea level of the Adriatic is rising, resulting
in a marked increase in the frequency with which the city floods.
Flooding is more likely in autumn and spring than winter and summer. High water
is especially troublesome at St. Mark's Square, the lowest spot in the city.
See the page from the website of the American PBS show
NOVA for more details.
The towering Campanile at Piazza San Marcoo
St. Mark's, the Campanile and the Doge's Palace (on right)
Take a ride in a gondola, but try it near sunset
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The palaces along the Grand Canal are beautiful and curiously mysterious.
Colorful house in Burano
Many of the views in Venice are magical, as is this one of the church San
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The Customs House and the Basilica della Salute
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