Seeing La Serenissima

Venice

A walk through Venice’s beautiful cityscape reveals the maritime empire’s rich history as a bridge between Europe and the East. Its glorious architecture unites with Byzantine and Moorish (Islamic) influences, defying the natural flow of the waters it calls home. Since most of the structures face the canals, board a vaporetto (Italian for “water bus”) to see La Serenissima’s breathtaking churches, palaces, and institutions. Let us take you on an extraordinary journey, from Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square) to the sestiere (district) of Cannaregio.

Updated a year ago

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Basilica di San Marco (Saint Mark's Basilica)

Venice, Italy • Recommendation • 22 June 2018

Basilica di San Marco is the perfect illustration of Venice’s ties to the East. It features a checkered facade reminiscent of properties in Constantinople (ancient Turkey), as well as five classic Greek-style domes topped with Moors-inspired ribbed lanterns. Enter the church to revel at the exquisite gold interiors, adorned with elaborate mosaics depicting biblical scenes—a quintessential Byzantine decoration. Remember to dress appropriately, since you’re visiting a place of worship. Drop by between 11:30AM to 12:45PM on weekdays, or during liturgical celebrations on Sundays and holidays when the insides of the cathedral are illuminated. Go to the nearby Campanile di San Marco for magnificent views of the city and the lagoon. The 99-meter tower is the exact brick-by-brick replica of the basilica’s original belfry, which collapsed in 1902.

+39412708311

San Marco 328, Venice, Italy

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Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace)

Venice, Italy • Recommendation • 22 June 2018

Palazzo Ducale is a grand piece of Gothic architecture that served as the city’s political and administrative seat, mainly as the home of the Doge (Duke). The white stone, pink marble structure retains much of its original 14th- and 15th-century foundations, while Renaissance, Mannerist, and modern touches were added in later years. Out of all the palazzo’s (Italian for “palace”) ornate rooms, the enormous Sala del Maggior Consiglio (Chamber of the Great Council) is the most jaw-dropping. It boasts impressive murals by renowned Italian artists, such as Paolo Veronese and Jacopo and Domenico Tintoretto.

+39412715911

San Marco 1, Venice, Italy

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Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana

Venice, Italy • Recommendation • 22 June 2018

Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, one of the oldest public depositories in Italy, is the first example of Classical architecture in Venice. Designed by Italian architect Jacopo Sansovino, the bibliothèque (Italian for “library”) presents a gorgeous exterior that highlights a gallery of Doric arches and beams. Bask in the grandeur as you leaf through its extensive collection of texts and manuscripts.

+39412407211

Piazza San Marco 7, Venice, Italy

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Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore

Venice, Italy • Recommendation • 22 June 2018

Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore is a 16th-century Benedictine church conceptualized by Venetian architect Andrea Palladio. Spot it from Riva degli Schiavoni, the promenade across the lagoon, and gaze at the brilliant white marble edifice as it reflects on the sparkling cerulean waters. A trip to the monastery spoils you with two of Italian painter Jacopo Tintoretto’s most celebrated works: “The Last Supper” and “The Fall of the Manna.”

+39415227827

Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, Italy

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Punta della Dogana

Venice, Italy • Recommendation • 22 June 2018

Punta della Dogana used to be Venice’s former Sea Customs House before Japanese architect Tadao Ando transformed it into a contemporary arts center in the late 2000s. The original building was completed in 1682, under Italian architect Giuseppe Benoni. The museum is characterized by a tower crowned with two Atlases lifting a golden bronze sphere carrying the goddess Fortuna. Punta della Dogana also showcases temporary exhibitions regularly, curated by the Pinault Collection of luxury goods tycoon François Pinault.

+39412001057

Dorsoduro 2, Venice, Italy

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Peggy Guggenheim Collection (Palazzo Venier dei Leoni)

Venice, Italy • Recommendation • 22 June 2018

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection sits on the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, an unfinished palazzo by Italian architect Lorenzo Boschetti. The stately mansion, which was the former residence of the museum’s namesake, shines with a marvelous Classical-style facade set against the Grand Canal. Step inside to explore the museum’s treasury of 20th-century art from the likes of Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, and Jackson Pollock.

+39412405440

Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, Dorsoduro 701, Venice, Italy

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Palazzo Grassi

Venice, Italy • Recommendation • 22 June 2018

The last palace built on the Grand Canal, Palazzo Grassi stands out from the Baroque and Byzantine structures that line the stretch. It features a Classical design by Venetian architect Giorgio Massari, with a main stairwell and ceilings decorated by well-known Venetian painters. It is also the primary exhibition space of François Pinault, famous for his contemporary and modern artworks and collections.

+39412001057

Campo San Samuele 3231, Venice, Italy

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Scuola Grande di San Rocco

Venice, Italy • Recommendation • 22 June 2018

The side of Scuola Grande di San Rocco that faces the campo (city square) wows with ancient Roman columns popping from the exterior. Similar to other scuole (Italian, plural for “confraternity”) in Venice, the historic site consists of two main halls: a Ground Floor Hall (divided by columns into three areas) and an Upper Floor Hall called Sala Capitolare, intended to hold the Chapter’s meetings. A visit here will eat up most of your afternoon, as it takes some time to lap up the works of Italian painter Jacopo Tintoretto plastered all over the interiors.

+39415234864

San Polo 3152, Venice, Italy

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Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)

Venice, Italy • Recommendation • 22 June 2018

The oldest bridge in Venice, Ponte di Rialto is a Renaissance-style stone arch link between the San Polo and San Marco districts. Until the 1850s, it was the only fixed structure crossing the Grand Canal. A reincarnation of past bridges, its current form is considered a feat in architecture and engineering.

San Polo, Venice, Italy

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Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca’ d’Oro (Palazzo Santa Sofia)

Venice, Italy • Recommendation • 22 June 2018

Palazzo Santa Sofia, which now houses the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca’ d’Oro, is an example of late Venetian Gothic architecture. The manor, built to be the home of a wealthy Venetian nobleman, seamlessly blends Moorish elements into its facade. Notice how the window frames on the main floor look like alfices, an Islamic adornment technique. Majority of its windows also feature inflected arches, typical in Eastern architecture. Take it all in from the opposite bank, as it grants the best and complete view of the elegant palazzo.

+39415200345

Cannaregio 3932, Venice, Italy

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