The St. Mark's Square (Piazza di San Marco) is the most prominent square in the city, here are the most famous sights of Venice, such as the Campanile, the Cathedral and the Doge's Palace. St. Mark's Square was created by filling in a canal in 1155. The square is particularly beautiful because it is enclosed by a uniform facade. The city administration of Venice was located in these offices. Shops and restaurants are located in the arcades on the ground floor. The campanile stands between the piazza and the piazzetta.
The construction of the Campanile began in 888. The spire was completed in 1517. The Venice campanile was often copied in Veneto and thus became a symbol of the city-state. In 1902 the tower collapsed and it was decided to rebuild it immediately. In 1912 the work was completed and the campanile was once again the symbol of Venice. You can climb the tower and have the best view of the city and the Venice lagoon.
The Doge was the elected head of the city republic of Venice. The Doge's Palace was the seat of government. Originally there was a castle built by Doge Sebastiano Ziani around 1175. In 1424 this building was torn down to build a representative palace with a uniform facade. Because the sea side was redesigned in this style as early as 1365. The fairytale-like Palazzo Ducale is a Gothic building with flamboyant elements. In 1577 the palace was destroyed by fire and rebuilt shortly afterwards.
The facade of the Doge's Palace is divided into three areas. On the ground floor there are pointed arches that stand on pillars. They form an arcade to the Piazzeta and the Riva degli Schiavoni. Above the ground floor stands another row of columns with arches, which merge into a series of circles in which there are quatrefoil openings. This architectural detail looks very filigree and is the hallmark of the palace. The corner conflict at the circles was masked with figures. The main level with the large halls has a flat facade made of white and reddish stones that form a square pattern. Large, arched windows divide the facade. In the middle there is a balcony decorated with marble figures.
The inner courtyard, which is well worth seeing, is entered through the Porta della Carta, which is located between the Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Church. From here you get to the Scala dei Giganti, a staircase flanked by the two gods Mars and Neptune. It was on this staircase that the doges were crowned.
The Doge's Palace was also the judicial center of Venice via the Bridge of Sighs, the palace was connected to the prison. The magnificent interiors of the Doge's Palace can be visited. For information on prices and opening times, check the link.
In the Doge's Palace, the court hearing used to be held and the convicts were taken over the Bridge of Sighs directly to their prison cells on the other side of the Rio di Palazzo. The bridge was built in 1602 and spans over the 8 m wide canal. The Ponte dei Sospiri was designed by the architect Antonio Contin. The marble bridge is decorated with volutes and stone heads. In the upper arch you can see a relief of justice. The Palazzo delle Prigioni was built in 1589 as a prison, you can recognize it by the barred windows on the right side of the photo.
St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) was built between 1063-1094 after the previous building was destroyed by fire. Due to the close trading relationship with Byzantium, the church was also built in the Byzantine style. St. Mark was the founder of the Coptic Church and Bishop of Alexandria, his symbol is the winged lion. Which Venice has adopted as the symbol of the city. The bones of St. Mark lie in St. Mark's Basilica.
The clock tower is the northern end of the Piazza San Marco. The Torre dell 'Orologio was built in 1499. The two wing structures next to the tower were built in 1755. There is an astronomical clock on the facade that shows the phases of the moon and the sun. At the top of the facade there is a relief of the winged lion, the heraldic animal of Venice. There are two figures on the tower that strike the bell on the top of the building.
The S-shaped canal is the main artery of the lagoon city. Most of the city's palaces are located on the up to 50 m wide Grand Canal. The Rialto Bridge spans over the canal on which the Church of Santa Maria della Salute is located. Everything that makes Venice special can be found on the Grand Canal. To discover the canal, you can take a ferry that travels along the Grand Canal. The vaporetto (water bus) line 1 runs from the train station up the Canal to Lido Island. On the way you will pass by many of Venice's attractions.
After the wooden bridges over the Grand Canal had to be constantly renewed, the city decided to build a stone bridge. The Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) was completed in 1591. The decisive factors for Giovanni Alvise Boldu's design were the shops on the bridge, which promised rental income for the city and the column-free construction, which was good for shipping on the canal. Today the Rialto Bridge is one of the most famous sights of Venice.
The Doge Contarini ordered the construction of the church of Santa Maria della Salute in 1630, with the request to the Virgin Mary to end the plague. The votive church designed by Baldassare Longhena was completed in 1687. The mighty dome of the white marble-clad church rises above the Grand Canal on an octagonal floor plan. On the south side there is another dome and two bell towers.
The large brick church of the Franciscans was built from 1250 onward, the architect is assumed to be Nicola Pisano. Scipione Bon took over the construction management around 1340 and adapted the design to his ideas. The relatively simple main facade is divided by pilaster strips with pinnacles. The bell tower is the second tallest in Venice after the Campanile of San Marco. The Romanesque-Gothic pillar basilica also impresses with its high central nave.
The church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari is known as the burial place of Titian, who died of the plague in 1576. Two of his works can be seen in the church. Behind the main altar is the picture "The Assunta" and in the left nave painting "The Pala di Ca 'Pesaro". The Frari Church is one of the attractions of Venice because there are numerous other famous paintings in the interior.
The San Moise church was commissioned by Mosé Venier in the 10th century. The unusually lavishly decorated church owes its facade to the generous donation by Vincenzo Fini, a wealthy patrician who paid for the rebuilding of the church after the fire of 1632. He and his family have been immortalized in the facade of the architect Alessandro Tremignon. The interior is also designed in the baroque style, with many large paintings. Only the ceiling is relatively simple. Next to the church is the brick wall bell tower that was built in the 14th century.
The first opera at this location was the Teatro San Benedetto, opened in 1755. The famous Venice Opera burned down in 1774 and was rebuilt in 1792 under the name "La Fenice" (the Phoenix). The opera house by architect Gian Antonio Selva looks relatively small and modest from the outside, but the interior is very pompous, with 5 rows of boxes one above the other and golden decorations. In 1835 the Teatro La Fenice burned down again and was rebuilt within a year. In 1996 the opera was deliberately set on fire and completely destroyed. The Venice Opera was reconstructed in 2003 based on historical photos and equipped with modern technology. The Venice Opera is one of the most famous opera houses in the world because many works by Giuseppe Verdi were performed here for the first time.
The Basilica of Saints John and Paul was built in the 13th century after the Doge Jacopo Tiepolo had a vision of God in whom God chose this place for a church. The Church of the Dominican Order was consecrated in 1430. The Iglesia Santi Giovanni e Paolo is one of the largest churches in Venice with a length of 96 m. The three-aisled basilica is 43 m wide and has a ceiling height of 35 m. Noteworthy is the large distance between the pillars, which are connected by wooden beams. The Venetians shorten the name of the church to Zanipolo. The Gothic church served as the Church of the Doges' grave. The brick building has only a few decorations made of Istrian stone on the facade.
The Scuola Grande di San Marco is right next to the church. The brotherhood's building was started in 1488 by architect Piedro Lombardo and was completed around 1495. The building in the style of the early Renaissance has a beautiful stone facade. The Austrians turned the building into a military hospital in 1808. The building is still used as a hospital today.
In the large square in front of the church there is an equestrian statue, which shows the general Bartolomeo Colleoni, who fought numerous wars for Venice. The square is one of the most beautiful in Venice.
The International Art Exhibition Biennale has been held every two years since 1895. Many countries have set up their own pavilions on the site. The Architecture Biennale takes place here in even years. The Venice Film Festival is also part of the Biennale. The area of the "Biennale di Venezia" is located in the Giardini di Biennale, at the end of the promenade that begins at the Doge's Palace. Since the site is often used for events, access is rarely unrestricted. You can find out about current events on the Biennale website (link below).
San Giorgio Maggiore is a small island that can be easily seen from St. Mark's Square. The church of the same name was designed by the famous architect Andrea Palladio in 1565. The Benedictine Church has existed on the island since 982. Thanks to the relic of Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity, many pilgrims came to the island and made possible the construction of this great church with their donations. There are many paintings by Jacopo Tintoretto in the interior of the classical church. The bell tower of San Giorgio Maggiore is similar to the Campanile of San Marco.
How to get there
Take the vaporetto boats of ACTV, for more information check the link below.
In the Middle Ages Venice was famous for its glass production. To minimize the risk of fire in Venice, all glass factories were relocated to the neighboring island of Murano. In Venice you can see shops selling the colorful Murano glass everywhere. The most famous sight on the island is therefore the Museo del Vetro (Glass Museum). But Murano is also a beautiful place and not so crowded compared to Venice.
Several lines of vaporetto boats go to Murano. The shortest route is from Fondamente Nove.