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Welcome to Venice

built on more than 100 islands and devoid of cars, venice is a walker’s paradise. even when crowds reach their maximum, a stroll down the floating city’s winding passageways reveals the city’s abundant charm. the architectural splendor of doge’s palace and st. mark’s basilica in piazza san marco reign supreme, while the grand canal splits the city in two like a lightning bolt. glide beneath rialto bridge during a sunset gondola ride, admire brightly colored buildings on the water’s edge, plan a visit to the glassblowing factories on the island of murano, and flock to the craggy peaks of the unesco-listed dolomites on a day trip.

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Top 10 attractions in Venice

St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco)
#1

St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco)

St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco) is filled with centuries of history and is still the symbolic heart of Venice; it has even been referred to as the drawing room of Europe. With the grand St Mark's Church at one end, the Campanile bell tower rising in the middle and the elegant colonnaded arcade of famous cafes on three sides, it is a wonderful place to be - and the hundreds of pigeons think so too. Sit and have coffee (you'll only be able to afford one) and watch the whole world pass by while a tuxedoed band plays. Then plunge north into the narrow streets full of shops leading towards the Rialto Bridge, or west into the city's pocket of high fashion designer stores finishing with an extremely expensive Bellini at Harry's Bar, the place that invented the peach/champagne drink. Alternately, head out of San Marco to the east and stroll the waterfront on the Riva....
Murano
#2

Murano

Murano is one of 118 islands in the lagoon of Venice, famous for its glass factories. This is where the unique colored glass of Venice is made, in family-owned factories. Once located in the main city of Venice, they caused too many fires and were exiled to Murano in 1291 - that's how long the industry has been going. It takes ten years to master the art of making proper Venetian glass. It's such a specialized art that in centuries past glass-makers were forbidden to leave Venice, and if they looked likely to betray industry secrets they were killed! These days the handmade glass is expensive and the industry is dying out - you are enthusiastically encouraged to purchase when you visit. Murano is home to 4,000 people. In its heyday it had 30,000 residents and the rich Venetians built their summer houses with lush gardens on the island. In fact, Murano had Italy's first botanical gardens....
Venice Islands
#3

Venice Islands

Of the several islands in the Venetian Lagoon, the 3 main ones are Burano, Murano and Torcello. Though small, each island has developed its own name and fame separate from Venice. The people of Burano are known internationally for their lace industry. Murano's inhabitants have a reputation as artisans as well, producing world-famous glassware. Torcello was the first of Venice's Islands to be populated, making it home to some of the areas oldest buildings and finest cathedrals....
Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale)
#4

Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale)

Until 1797, the Doges ruled the Venetian Empire and the Palazzo Ducale was where they ruled from. It was one of the first things those arriving in Venice saw as their ships sailed through the lagoon and landed at Saint Mark's Square. The Doges lived here and the government offices were also in this building. Justice was meted out here and the Golden Book, listing all the important families of Venice, was housed here. No one whose family was not in the Golden Book would ever be made Doge. It was an extremely political process ruling Venice and residents could accuse others of wrong doing by anonymously slipping a note into the Mouth of Truth. Inside the palace is wonderful art (paintings by Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese), majestic staircases, the Doge's apartments, the government chambers, the prison cells and the Bridge of Sighs. Outside, along the piazzetta, each column is different....
St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)
#5

St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)

Basilica di San Marco (St Mark's Cathedral) is magnificent. It is both a wonderful architectural flurry of Gothic, Byzantine, Romanesque and Renaissance styles declaring the wealth of Venice over centuries, and a spiritual place of worship. Its domes and turrets, and gold mosaic stand out over the square and over Venice, and four ancient classical horses top the entrance, taken from Constantinople (Istanbul) when Venice sacked that city around 1200. Inside the church is dazzling. The church was begun in 828 when the body of St Mark was returned to Venice, smuggled by merchants from its resting place in Alexandria, Egypt. An angel had told St Mark his final resting place would be Venice (which did not even exist at the time) and the Venetian leaders were keen to make it happen. Over the years, churches were built, burnt, rebuilt and expanded resulting in the incredible building we see today....
Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)
#6

Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)

Rialto Bridge or Ponte di Rialto was the city's first bridge over the Grand Canal. Connecting the highest points on the lagoon islands settlement, the first bridge was built in 1180 and this more solid marble one in 1588-92. The bridge is an elegant arch with steps and shops, a mass of water traffic passing underneath, and huge numbers of tourists and Venetians heading across it. The area around the bridge was, and still is, full of important city functions. Nearby are the city's markets: the fresh produce and the fish market. They have been there for 700 years. This area was also where the first banks were established, where the traders who made Venice rich set sail from and sold their goods on return, where courts met, prisoners were held and punished, and new laws were declared....
Grand Canal
#7

Grand Canal

The Grand Canal is the main street of Venice. Lined with beautiful, if aging, palazzo, you can hop aboard a gondola and imagine a time when these boats were the main means of transport (once there was 10,000 now there are 400). The impressive palazzo, homes to all the wealthy families, had highly decorated exteriors with colorful paintings and mosaics. These days they tend to have faded to one color but many still have the ornate, oriental facades influenced by the merchant trading with the East which made Venice rich. Only a few bridges cross the Grand Canal: the Accademia Bridge, the Rialto Bridge and the bridge near the station at Ferrovia. Stand on these and watch boats pass by filled with fruit and vegetables, slabs of soft drink, building materials etc because Venice is still a city without cars and everything the city needs has to be transported by water or handcart....
Rialto Fish Market (Mercato di Rialto)
#8

Rialto Fish Market (Mercato di Rialto)

Venice is a city of many traditions, and one of the oldest is the way residents get groceries. The Rialto markets have been serving the population of Venice since 1097, making them an authentic part of life in the city. The best-known of the markets is the Rialto Fish Market, called the “Pescheria” in Italian. In addition to familiar seafood you'll see for sale, you'll also find specialties of the Venetian lagoon. Browsing the aisles is a great way to get an idea of what's local and fresh before you browse restaurant menus later in the day....
Bridge of Sighs
#9

Bridge of Sighs

Built in 1602, the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) connected the interrogation rooms in the Doges Palace with the prison cells. It got its name from the fact that prisoners passing across it sighed for their lost freedom and their final view of Venice through the barred windows. The prison cells were small, dank and often a final stop before death. You can see them on a tour of the Palazzo Ducale (Doges Palace). Designed by Antoni Contino whose uncle designed the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs is covered-in, with bars on the windows, made of white limestone. From the outside it is lovely, from the inside not so pretty....
Marco Polo's Home (Casa di Marco Polo)
#10

Marco Polo's Home (Casa di Marco Polo)

The Venetian building that was once the supposed home of famous explorer Marco Polo and his family is now easily missable to passers-by. The nearby square is known as the Corte Seconda del Milion, pointing to the title of Marco Polo's travel memoirs—Il Milione. Located near the San Giovanni Crisostomo Church and just behind the Teatro Malibran, the building is not open to the public, but there is a small marble plaque on the wall commemorating the site's significance....

Trip ideas

Sightseeing on a Budget in Venice

Sightseeing on a Budget in Venice

Top Parks and Gardens in Venice

Top Parks and Gardens in Venice

How to Experience Venice Carnival

How to Experience Venice Carnival

Top activities in Venice

Murano, Burano and Torcello Half-Day Sightseeing Tour

Murano, Burano and Torcello Half-Day Sightseeing Tour

The Top 10 Things To Do in Venice
From
€20.00
Venice Gondola Ride and Serenade

Venice Gondola Ride and Serenade

The Top 10 Things To Do in Venice
From
€38.00
Venice Walking Tour and Gondola Ride

Venice Walking Tour and Gondola Ride

The Top 10 Things To Do in Venice
From
€45.00
Dolomite Mountains and Cortina Semi Private Day Trip from Venice

Dolomite Mountains and Cortina Semi Private Day Trip from Venice

The Top 10 Things To Do in Venice
From
€166.00
Murano & Burano Islands Half Day Guided Tour by Private Boat

Murano & Burano Islands Half Day Guided Tour by Private Boat

The Top 10 Things To Do in Venice
From
€39.00
Venice Marco Polo Airport Link Arrival Transfer

Venice Marco Polo Airport Link Arrival Transfer

The Top 10 Things To Do in Venice
From
€32.03

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