Known for its immense beauty, Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and among the must-include places in Europe Tour Packages. Actually, Venice, the capital of the Veneto Region of Northern Italy, lies on 117 small islands that are connected by a series of bridges and separated by a network of canals. The dream-like city of Venice attracts millions of tourists especially honeymooners every year due to its romantic scenery, historical attractions, and serene canals. Besides, it is considered one of the best European destinations for Indians due to its vibrant and intriguing cultural heritage. This lagoon city has been a major center of art since medieval times. Today, Venice remains an important economic center and is one of the most visited cities for tourism in the world as it is home to several Italian palazzos and museums, marvelous castles, ancient cathedrals, art galleries, and public squares.
Here is a quick list of must visit places in Venice, Italy.
St. Mark’s Square / Piazza San Marco
St. Mark’s Square, also called as Piazza San Marco, is the most crowded public square in Venice, one of the best places to visit in Italy. Located in front of St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace, it is separated from the palace by a small inland waterway known as the Rio Batario. Around 180 m long and 70 m wide, it is the only “piazza” in Venice, and is surrounded by the stately arcades of public buildings on three sides and on the fourth, by Basilica di San Marco’s riot of domes, arches, and the soaring St. Mark’s campanile. Surrounded by open-air cafes, incredible architecture and popular attractions, the place offers a memorable Venetian experience in every season that draws large number of tourists as part of Venice Tour Packages.
St. Mark’s Basilica
The most renowned and famous building in Venice, St. Mark’s Basilica or Basilica di San Marco is an ornate cathedral located in the Piazza San Marco, Venice, one of the popular cultural destinations in Europe. The original structure of the church was built in the 9th century but has been rebuilt and embellished extensively over the centuries. With a blend of Gothic, Byzantine, Romanesque, and Renaissance architectural styles, the Basilica Di San Marco houses the remains of the Venetian saint, St. Mark. This splendid cathedral is known for its remarkable multitude of domes and over 8,000 meter square of luminous mosaics and ornamentation. The magnificent golden altarpiece, the Pala d’Oro, one of the finest in Europe, adorned with nearly 2,000 gems and precious stones.
Located on the banks of the Grand Canal, Doge’s Palace is one of the gorgeous palaces in Venice, Italy, among the most visited countries in the world. An epitome of Venetian Gothic architecture, the palace was constructed in two phases. The eastern wing, which faces the Rio di Palazzo, was built between 1301 and 1340. The western wing, facing the Piazetta San Marco, took an additional 110 years to build and was completed in 1450. The front facade of this ornate palace is simply stunning that features a beautiful arched design made of white stone with a series of diamond patterns on the walls. Inside, there is a series of immensely decorated rooms that all have original details, furniture and artwork. It was the Seat of Government, the Palace of Justice, and the official residence of Doge, the supreme authority of the former Republic. The Chamber of Great Council, in the Doge’s Palace, held all the political meetings of the most important republic body, the Great Council. Later, it became a museum in 1923 and is one of the 11 museums run by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.
The Grand Canal
Venice has literally hundreds of canals that connect the various islands that make up the city – the largest of which is the Canale Grande. With a stretch of around 4 km, this is more like a river and it passes from one side of Venice to the other and snakes through the center in a giant reverse S curve. It has served as an important waterway in the city for hundreds of years connecting Piazza San Marco, Rialto Bridge, and the arrival points of the rail station and bridge from the mainland. Only four bridges span the Grand Canal, and over 170 palaces of all the leading families line the banks of the canal. A ride along the Grand Canal in a gondola is the best way to see them, and of course one of the most romantic things to do in Venice at night.
Bridge of Sighs
Also called as Ponte dei Sospiri by locals, the Bridge of Sighs is the connecting bridge between the Doge’s Palace and the New Prison across the Rio di Palazzo. Built in 1600, it was designed by Antonio Contino whose uncle Antonio da Ponte had designed the Rialto Bridge. The bridge is named so because prisoners would “sigh” at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window on their way to the executioner. Although only a small bridge, it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Venice and an important historic landmark as well. Made up of white limestone, it has windows with stone bars that passes over the Rio di Palazzo, and connects the New Prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. The bridge remains a government property even today, yet thousands of tourists approach by boat and admire the beauty of its architecture.
Ponte di Rialto
Rialto Bridge or Ponte di Rialto is the oldest among the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. This magnificent one stone-arch bridge that connects districts of San Marco and San Polo was designed by Antonio da Ponte in 1591, and was used to replace a wooden bridge that collapsed in 1524. For nearly three hundred years, it was the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot. Also, it marks the spot of the island’s first settlement, called Rivus Altus (high bank). No trip to the city of Venice would be complete without walking over this iconic bridge at least once! On both the sides of this bridge are jam-packed shops and stalls that make up for the Rialto market where one can shop for some knick-knacks and souvenirs. It is quite crowded here but is worth climbing up the stairs and get some amazing scenes of the boats and gondolas sauntering through the canal during the sunset. For a romantic experience, you can go for a gondola ride itself and click photos with the bridge as the background.
Gallerie dell Accademia
Located on the south bank of the Grand Canal, the Gallerie dell’Accademia is one of the popular and most significant galleries in Venice. Called “Accademia” for short, this museum has the most comprehensive collection of 15th-18th-century Venetian paintings that are arranged chronologically. Consists of 24 rooms, the galleries here are home to beautiful artworks done by the renowned artists like Canaletto, da Vinci, and Titian that depicts the art forms of the medieval period. Much of the collection of Gallerie dell’Accademia was assembled from monasteries and churches that were closed and from the clearing of palaces of noble families, now displayed in the former Monastery of Santa Maria della Carità. St. George by Andrea Mantegna, St Jerome and a Donor by Piero della Francesca, Madonna and Saints by Giovanni Bellini, Portrait of Christ by Vittore Carpaccio, and Madonna under the Orange Tree by Cima da Conegliano, Vitruvian Man by Da Vinci, the Resurrection by Tintoretto, Virgin and the Child by Titian, and the Battle of Lepanto by Veronese, and several works by Giambattista Tiepolo are the main highlights here.
Venice Lido or Lido di Venezia is an 11-kilometre-long barrier island that separates the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. Lido is the perfect place for visitors who want to soak up the sun and enjoy the beach away from the tourist crowd during Venice trip as it has a much calmer, laid back and relaxed atmosphere which is a stark contrast to the busy streets and waterways surrounding the Grand Canal. It is a vibrant island with an interesting history and is known worldwide for its beautiful beaches. Also, the island hosts the Venice International Film Festival every year in the last week of August and the first week of September, which is the oldest International Film Festival in the world. Lido is also dotted with ancient buildings and canals that will give you a mini experience of Venice city. If you wish to gamble then Lido also has some of the most renowned casinos where you can try your luck.
San Giorgio Maggiore
One of the most photographed sites of Venice, San Giorgio Maggiore is a small island located across the lagoon from St. Mark’s Square, and is home to famous 16th-century church of St George. Designed by the famous architect Andrea Palladio, the beauty of the church lies in the white marble facade which gives this church an elegant look. The open and spacious interiors further add to the beauty of the place even further. The choir and the high altar is separated with columns giving it an amazing look. The three floors of the church are flooding with renowned paintings like ‘The Last Supper,’ ‘The Entombment of Christ,’ ‘The Fall of Manna,’ ‘Madonna enthroned with Saints’ and much more. Visitors can ride an elevator to the top of the church’s neoclassic bell tower to enjoy the fantastic 360° views of Venice. It is only accessible by boat, separated from the neighboring island of Giudecca by the Canale delle Grazie.
Teatro La Fenice
Teatro La Fenice is one of the popular opera houses in the world, and among the major landmarks in Venice. Opened in 1792, it has been burned down three times and the current building was rebuilt in 2004. The name of the theater pays homage to its ability to rise from its own ashes, and the current interior is absolutely stunning with its detailed ornamentation and intricate motifs. The opera house has hosted many famous operatic premieres and performances of famous composers like Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi. Its architectural charm makes it one of the most beautiful places to visit in Venice. Watching a performance at Teatro La Fenice is one of the top things to do in Venice as part of Venice Packages.
Scuola Grande di San Rocco
Scuola Grande di San Rocco is one of the most prominent heritage building and one of the best places to visit in Venice. Completed in 1560, it is made of white marble with soothing interior décor and comprises of a grand entrance, a couple of halls, and an impeccably painted ceiling. Named after San Rocco, a Catholic saint, Scuola Grande di San Rocco was initially built for a charitable society office. Soon after its completion, the great 16th-century Venetian artist Tintoretto won the competition to paint a central panel for the ceiling of the Sala dell’Albergo by entering the building. He later decorated its walls and ceilings with a complete cycle of paintings, which are considered to be the artist’s masterpiece. There are over 60 paintings of Titian and Palma il Giovane are also present. If you are an art lover, then don’t miss this place while holidaying in Venice.
With an area of 1,134 acres (459 hectares), Murano is a cluster of 7 individual islands linked with bridges and canals in the Venice Lagoon. Also called as the Glass Island of Venice, the island is famous among tourists for its unique style of glass making which dates back to the 10th century. The glass workers were sent here in the 13th century in hope of decreasing the risk of fire from one of the glass furnaces sweeping through Venice’s tightly compacted center. While in Venice, visitors can experience this stunning technique of artistic glass making by going to the glass factories, art showrooms as well as attending the expert workshops on Murano glass making by the glass masters. Besides, the island also houses the architectural richness of historical sites, churches, European architecture.
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, usually called the Frari, is one of the most important religious buildings located at Campo dei Frari in the heart of the San Polo district of Venice, Italy. It is one of the popular churches in Venice and among the must include places in Venice tour packages. Built out of red brick by Franciscan in the 13th century, it is an excellent example of the Gothic architectural style. Although the outside is quite plain, the interior is sumptuous to gaze upon and is home to some wonderful pieces of art which includes Titian’s Pesaro Madonna. Its impressive 14th-century campanile is the second highest in the city. Don’t miss Vittoria’s wonderful statue of St. Jerome and the stunning monument to Antonio Canova.
If you are looking for a peaceful escape during your Venice tour, Torcello island is the places for you as it is much less crowded than the main areas of Venice. Located to the far east of the main part of Venice, the tiny island of Torcello is nestled behind Burano in the Venice lagoon. It is one of the popular destinations for a day trip from Venice. Founded in the 5th century, it was once the commercial capital of Venice and the home of 20,000 people. But due to silt in the canals, plagues, malaria and other epidemics, most of the people died and now only less than 100 people live in this island. Today, much of the island is a nature reserve that is accessible by walking paths. Known for its ancient Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell’Assunta, it was built in 639 and has a tall 11th-century bell tower that dominates the skyline. The cathedral has stunning Byzantine mosaics from the 11th to the 13th centuries in which the most impressive one is the depiction of the Last Judgment.
Santhi is an avid traveler and primary contributor to the blogs at Trawell.in. She has explored most of the states in India and gained vast knowledge on tourist destinations in India and abroad. She also contributes content to other travel websites.