Sightseeing guide for Venice
Church of San Simeon Piccolo
This imposing church is located opposite the Santa Lucia train station. The Church of San Simeon Piccolo was built at the beginning of the 18th century and was intended to be a copy of the Pantheon in Rome; this is why it has a large green dome, with the statue of San Salvatore on the top. Ithas several times been used for concerts.
Church of San Giacometto
Popular tradition considers the church of San Giacometto to be the oldest church in Venice. It was built thanks to the belief and talent of a carpenter from Crete around the 5th century, just when the first people settled on this group of islands. The church is very small but very pretty and charming. There is a large clock on the facade, built in 1410.
Basilica Santa Maria della Salute
On October 22nd 1630, during the terrible plague that struck Venice, the Doge Nicolo Contarini publicly declared that a church would be built in the name of Health (salute) as a vow to end the scourge. A year later, in 1631, the plague was wiped out and the Basilica della Salute was opened in 1687. Eleven plans for the church were presented and the one designed by Baldassare Longhena was chosen. The design included a huge facade that reminds of the Palladium, with a wonderful huge door in the center. The facade was lifted with a number of steps to give the church an even greater sense of grandeur. The interior is incredibly charming due to the severe majesty of its size. The central area follows an octagonal plan. The church houses a number of works of art by Pentecost, San Rocco and San Sebastiano, David and Goliath and Cain and Abel by Tiziano, The Marriage of Canaan by Tintoretto and Jonah and Samson by Palma il Giovane.
Church of Santa Maria Formosa
The Church of Santa Maria Formosa is one of the eight churches built in the 7th century by San Magno, the Bishop of Oderzo. Legend goes that the Virgin Mary appeared to him in the form of a shapely, matron. The church was damaged during an earthquake and after several rennovations, the last reconstruction of the entire building was carried out in the period 1916 to 1921, using funds provided by the government and by Count Venier. The Baroque church tower was built in 1668 and was designed by Francesco Zucconi. The facade of the church that faces the canal was built using money donated by the Cappello family, in honor of Captain Vincenzo Cappello, who defeated the Turks. The church' s interior was decorated by Mauro Coducci and is built according to the Latin cross pattern over the previous Greek cross foundations. It has a central aisle and side aisles, a choir, transepts with cross vaults and a hemispherical dome. The church is also home to some wonderful paintings by Bartolomeo Vivarini, Palma il Giovane and Palma il Vecchio.
Church of San Giorgio Dei Greci
The construction of the Church of San Giorgio dei Greci began in 1539, as soon as the Greeks obtained permission to build a church and a school from the Republic of Venice. The Church of San Giorgio dei Greci was completed by Chianantonio and was consecrated in 1561. The church' s interior is truly magnificent: the hemispherical dome is magnificent, with its center covered in frescoes by G. di Cipro.
Church of the Pieta
The church was built in the 15th century according to a design by Giorgio Massari and was consecrated in 1760. The building is one of the elegant and striking from the 7th century. There is a wonderful fresco by Tiepolo on the ceiling of the main entrance, the "Fortitudine e Pace", one of his greatest masterpieces. In this church Tiepolo has excelled himself, painting the Glory of Paradiso.
Basilica of San Marco
This wonderful church was built in 829 to contain the remains of Saint Mark, the city' s patron saint. It has been rennovated and decorated several times over the centuries and the Basilica is certainly the most spectacular church in the city. Its main facade is unique. It has five arched doorways, a long terrace that are home to four bronze horses that came from the booty from the 4th crusade of the infidels. The marble floor has a striking geometric pattern and there are splendid mosaics on the walls that narrate stories from the New Testament.
San Marco Bell Tower
The San Marco Bell Tower was built in the 9th century. It was originally used as a lookout tower and as a lighthouse. It was rebuilt in 1100 and it was then completed in the 16th century under the guidance of the architect Bon. It was rebuilt in a Renaissance style while maintaining the original structure. In 1902, the bell tower fell down but fortunately there were no tragic consequences. The tower is square, built in brick. It is 12 meters wide and 98.6 meters high and is closed on top with a pyramid-shaped point. On the top there is a golden angel about 2 meters high. The bell tower has played an essential role in the political and social life of the city for centuries. The bells rung to inform the inhabitants of all the main events organized in Venice.
Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli
The Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli is almost hidden between two ancient palaces. It was built between 1481 and 1489 by Lombardo to protect the sacred image of the "Vergine tra due Santi". The church' s facade is completely covered in marble that comes from the remains of the work on the Basilica of San Marco. The church' s interior is decorated in hues of pale pink, silver, grey and white and there is still the original work with mermaids, the God Triton, animals, flowers and other pictures. The "Vergine tra due Santi" stands above the church' s altar.
The Mocenigo family, from Lombardia, settled in Venice a long time ago and became one of the symbols of the city itself. One of the family branches lived at San Stae, where one of the most striking buildings in Venice was built which was Ca Mocenigo, built with a main entrance known as a "portego" in the central block. The building now belongs to the City Council and can still be admired in all its glory with the original 18th century furnishings and decorations. Palazzo Mocenigo also houses the Vittorio Cini collection of curtains, hangings and religious fabrics.
The Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge was originally the only permanent connection between the two banks of the Grand Canal. The final stone version of the Rialto Bridge was built in the period 1588 to 1591 by Antonio da Ponte. Building the bridge was difficult due to the instability of the site and its height (8 meters).
The House of Carlo Goldoni
Carlo Goldoni, the famous Venetian playwright, was born in 1707 at Palazzo Centani, located alongside Ponte San Toma. The building has a facade with a pointed arch that faces the canal and can be seen from the bridge. It has a wonderful courtyard and an open air staircase. A center for the preservation of the artists manuscripts was then created. The building has been the home of the Institute of Theatrical Studies (Istituto degli Studi Teatrali) since 1952.
Scuola Grande di San Rocco
The Scuola Grande di San Rocco is a majestic building made from white marble, designed by the architects Bon and Scarpagnino around 1400. It was declared a School in 1489 by the Concilio dei Dieci. The carvings on the facade are very intricate and recall the typical style of the Venetian sculptors from the mid-15th century. The school played a role of helping the poor and protecting the city' s artistic assets. Works by Tintoretto, Tiziano, Tiepolo and Giorgione, all illustrating the bible can be found here.
This exceptional building was the center of Venice' s political, social and economic life. Palazzo Ducale was the private residence of the Doge, but it was also the home of the Government' s and the Courts' main offices. Substantial changes were made in 1173, during the rule of the Doge Sebastiano Ziani, and the palace was expanded. However, in 1340, the building took on a truly grandiose size when the Gothic style wing was built that faces the San Marco bay, where the Greater Council meeting was held. The rooms inside the palace are full of frescoes depicting the history of the Republic by Masters such as Tiepolo, Tiziano, Veronese, Bassano and Palma il Giovane.
The "Procuratie" and the Napoleonic wing
Piazza San Marco is bordered on the right and on the left sides by the Procuratie, which are connected by the Napoleonic Wing. There are now several shops under the porticoes, the famous Cafe Florian and Cafe Quadri and there are also some luxurious Venetian jewellers such as Nardi and Missaglia. Both the Procuratie, the Old and the New one, house galleries over the 50 arches of the ground floor portico. The third side of the square, the one that faces the Basilica, is taken up by the Napoleonic Wing. This is a building in Neo-classical style, built on the wishes of Napoleon in 1807. The Napoleonic Wing houses the Correr Museum collection nowadays. The Torre dell' Orologio (the Clock Tower) is also located on the side of the old Procuratie. The tower is topped by a terrace where there is a large bell and two bronze statues known as the "Mori". The clock face is gold and blue enamel and shows the time, the lunar phases and the zodiac signs.
Ca' d' Oro
Palazzo Ca' d' Oro, now home of the Franchetti Gallery, is one of the main attractions of Venetian Gothic architecture, built at the beginning of the 15th century according to the wishes of Marini Contarini. The name of Ca' d' Oro (The Golden home) comes from the gold-leaves covering its facade. In 1927, the palace was turned into a museum that now houses several works of art by Tiziano and Tintoretto and some Gothic and Renaissance furniture.
Ca' Rezzonico is a large building that looks down onto the Grand Canal and which is now home to the 18th Century Museum in Venice. The large staircase can be reached from the entrance hall on the ground floor and it is one of the most magnificent entrances in the entire city. Ca' Rezzonico was bought by the English poet Robert Browning and then by the Baron Hirschel de Minerby, the last private owner. The building was then acquired by the City Council (1925) and was turned into a museum.
The Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Oriental Art
The Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Oriental Art in Venice are housed in the wonderful 17th century building known as Ca' Pesaro, a true example of Venetian Baroqe style, designed in 1628 by Baldassare Longhena. The Modern Art Gallery has an interesting collection of paintings and sculptures by 19th and 20th century artists such as Kilmt, Chagall, Kandinsky, Klee, Matisse, Moore, Miro, Morandi, De Chirico, Rodin. On the second floor there is a large collection of oriental art pieces, divided into two sections which are "China and Indonesia" and "Japan".
Peggy Guggenheim Museum
The Peggy Guggenheim Museum is a foundation that is housed inside Palazzo Venier dai Leoni, a typical building with just one floor that looks out onto the Grand Canal. In 1954 Peggy Guggenheim, a collector and patron of many modern artists, bought the building to live in, transferring her own collection of sculptures and paintings by artists such as Miro, Magritte, Boccioni, Picasso, Chagall, Mondrian, Kandinsky, Ernst, Dali. Today these works of art can be visited at the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation, the best Museum of Modern Art in Venice. The museum houses approximately 400 works of art, including paintings and sculptures.
The Academy of Fine Arts was set up in 1750, headed first by Piazzetta and then by Tiepolo. In 1807, a true art gallery was set up inside it, that served two purposes: it offered important models for the Academy' s students and also housed the artistic inheritance left by the public buildings that were dismantled after the Venice Marine Republic fell from power. At the end of World War II, the architect Carlo Scarpa redesigned the Academy. Religious artefacts have been added to the original collection, private heirlooms, restored paintings and paintings that were bought elsewhere. Right outside the Academy there is the "dell' Accademia Bridge", one of the three bridges, together with the Rialto and the degli Scalzi bridges, that cross over the Grand Canal.
The Correr Museum, which is located in the Napoleonic Wing of Piazza San Marco and in a part of the Procuratie, houses several items and findings that tell the story of Venetian art and history. In the part of the museum that takes up the magnificent Neoclassical rooms of the Napoleonic Wing there is a wonderful collection of sculptures by Canova. The part of the museum that is in the new Procuratie holds an exhibition showing various aspects of the city such as traditional Venetian festivals.
Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco is the only "Piazza" in Venice, as all the other squares are given the name "Campo". From the very beginning, Piazza San Marco was designed and built as an extension of Palazzo Ducale and the San Marco Basilica. The space originally taken up by the square was rather narrow and had a canal running through it: the Rio Batario. Opposite the Palazzo Ducale, and in place of the old wharf, a small square was created where two tall columns coming from Constantinople were installed. A winged lion was placed on one column, which is the symbol of Venice, and on the other column there was a statue of San Teodoro, the old patron saint of Venice, who was then replaced by San Marco. The larger part of the square that stretches out in front of the Basilica, is 170 meters long and has the shape of a trapezium. The edge of the square is bordered by the old and new Procuratie, and the Napoleonic Wing which is now the home of the Correr Museum.
The Bridge of Sighs
The bridge connects the Palazzo Ducale, where prisoners were trialed, to the prisons known as the "Piombi". The bridge was built on the orders of the Doge Mario Grimani and was made from Istria stone. It is decorated with Baroque patterns. The beauty of the structure has given the bridge a romantic connotation in complete contrast to its actual use. The sighs that the bridge inspired were definitely not sighs from people in love, but from the prisoners who had just been sentenced to years in jail in the terrible "piombi".
The Mercerie cut the old city center into two parts, connecting Piazza San Marco to Rialto. The Mercerie is divided into three parts: Mercerie dell' oroloio (that starts from Piazza San Marco), Mercerie de San Zulian and Mercerie di San Salvador. All the Mercerie are full of shops and boutiques of all kinds, from luxury jewellers such as Cartier and Rolex to fashion boutiques such as Sergio Rossi for shoes and Krizia for clothes.
The Jewish Ghetto
The Venice Ghetto was the first to be set up in Europe and was founded in 1516. The Venetian Jews had to live inside the area bordered by the Ghetto Bridge, and could not leave the area from dusk until dawn. Guards were placed at the Ghetto boundaries to control the Jews' movements and the Ghetto was closed at night with gates. There are 5 synagogues that look out onto Campo del Ghetto, the Canton Synagogue, the Italian Synagogue, the German Synagogue, the Levantine Synagogue and the Spanish Synagogue.
The Rialto Market
The famous Rialto Market consists of two parts which are the Erbaria and the Pescaria. Erbaria is the fruit and vegetable market which is right under the Rialto Bridge, on the opposite side to Campo San Bortolo. Pescaria is the fish market and is just a short walk away, under the porticoes of a neo-Gothic building that looks out on the Grand Canal.