Most people would agree that the sights of Venice are both impressive and unforgettable. And when they visit, most look for the famous landmarks that everyone knows about but not everyone gets to see.
Venice has a rich and vibrant history when it comes the arts and also the architecture of the city.
At one time it was one of the richest centers of trade in the world and the Venetian wealthy elite were not shy of showing off their successes.
Here are some of the most famous landmarks in Venice that you will certainly not want to miss on your trip!
Famous Landmarks in Venice
1. Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge, or Ponte de Rialto, in Italian, is located in the middle of everything Venice has to offer. This stone arch bridge passes over the Grand Canal.
Dating back to the 16th century, the Rialto Bridge is among the Renaissance’s most prestigious engineering and architectural achievements.
The bridge spans three roadways and is the home to two arcades worth of shops. Tourists flock to the bridge for the sight of it as much as the shops they’ll encounter.
2. St. Mark’s Square
Also considered to be in the heart of Venice, St. Mark’s Square is the city’s only piazza. Napoleon even referred to it as Europe’s drawing room.
St. Mark’s Square shares part of its name with the Basilica, one of the many reasons tourists are attracted to it. Other attractions at St. Mark’s Square include the Clock Tower, Doge’s Palace, and the Mueso Correr.
St. Mark’s Clock Tower chimes every hour on the hour. Referred to as the Torre dell’ Orologio in Italian, it features a balcony at the top of the tower that houses the bronze Moor figures that are responsible for the bell’s hourly rings.
Just below the Moors is St. Mark’s winged lion. Below that is where you’ll find a Virgin Mary statue. During the time of Epiphany and the Ascension week, four Magi statues come out of the clock tower every hour. At that time, an angel raises her trumpet to acknowledge their presence.
The Museo Correr is a civic museum dedicated to Teodoro Correr, a Venetian aristocrat. It houses many of his belongings, including classical antiquities, paintings, seals, and copper plates.
But it also features several Antonio Canova marble sculptures. There are 10 other similar civic museums throughout Venice.
3. Saint Mark’s Basilica
Considered among the most spectacular cathedrals in Italy, Saint Mark’s Basilica was first designated as the Doge’s private chapel.
However, it plays an important part in Venice’s political and religious makeup. The original intent of the Basilica was to provide a safe place for relics to be kept after they were stolen from Egypt.
Since then, it has become an icon in the art industry, thanks in part, to the golden mosaics that dominate it.
4. Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s Palace is directly across from St. Mark’s Basilica. Inside the palace, you’ll find a myriad of oil and other paintings by artists that include Tintoretto, Bellini, Veronese, and Carpaccio. The palace also features the Scala d’Oro golden stairway, by Sansovino.
Doge’s Palace was originally the home of the former Venetian republic’s elected leaders. It includes a courtyard in the center of the property. Though the original version of Doge’s Palace was twice the victim of fires, it has existed in its current form since the 14th century.
Also Read: Museums in Venice
Around 1438, Bartolomeo and Giovanni designed its main gateway, named the Porta della Carta. The works of art originally kept in Doge’s Palace include Bellini family paintings and pieces by Titian.
It was after yet another fire destroyed those works that the works of Veronese, Carpaccio, and more, were brought to the palace.
5. Grand Canal
Venice is split in half by the Grand Canal. Known as the Canalazzo, in Italian, it is by far the most significant body of water in the country.
Over the Grand Canal run four bridges; Constitution, Barefoot, Academia, and the above-mentioned Rialto. The Constitution Bridge is known in Italian as the Ponte della Costituzione and is the newest of the four bridges.
It makes getting between Piazzale Roma and the train station area easy to do. Right outside of the station, you’ll find the Barefoot Bridge, which started out as a drawbridge. It was used to allow ships to pass through from Rialto. The Academia Bridge connects the district of St. Mark’s to Dorsoduro.
If you choose a tour of the Grand Canal, you can take a gondola ride or hop on the water bus to see all the palaces lining the canal.
The island of Burano is actually a series of islands, each of which you can get to via bridge. From Venice, it’s a 40-minute trip on a ferry or other boat. Home to nearly 4,000 residents, Burano’s streets are lined with bright-colored houses.
These colors are carefully chosen to make the island visually appealing. In fact, homeowners can’t paint their houses a specific color without first getting permission from the municipality.
Burano is such a small area of islands that there is only one important house of worship. The San Martino Church is most distinct for its bell tower. Other notable attractions include the Museum and School of Lace Making. This is very important to Burano’s culture.
Dating back to the 16th century, female residents of Burano routinely made lace. Today, Burano is home to many prestigious shops where you can buy lace clothes. This focus on lace and its value were what inspired the island’s museum.
If you visit, you’ll learn the ins and outs of lace making becoming a local tradition. The museum’s school teaches you how to make your own lace products.
Aside from the church and museum, one of the island’s main attractions is its central street, Calle Galuppi. The shops along the street are as colorful as the houses you’ll see. Each shop is painted in different pastel colors and each one sells items made with lace.
The best way to enjoy some locally made sweets while you are there is to frequent the street’s food stores and bakeries.
7. Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is notable because it connects the prisons of Venice to Doge’s Palace.
This bridge dates back to the year 1600 when its closed passageway got its unique name because prisoners would sigh in resignation as they traveled over it on the way to the prison, where many of them would spend the rest of their lives.
Despite the negative connotations of the Bridge of Sighs, it remains one of the landmarks that is photographed more than any others in the world.
8. Peggy Guggenheim
One of the landmarks that few people can resist visiting is the Peggy Guggenheim Museum.
Located along the Grand Canal, this museum is a collection of artwork that’s kept at the 18th-century palace, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni. This is the palace that Peggy Guggenheim called home for three decades.
In 1951, while Ms. Guggenheim was still alive, her artwork collection was put on public display for the first time. At that time, the artwork was on display only during certain times of the year.
However, in 1979, when she passed away, her collection of artwork was acquired by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. The next year, a permanent display of her artwork was created.
Since then, the museum itself has been expanded to add more space for the main gallery. Part of the expansion of turning each of the first-floor rooms into a gallery of its own.
While at one time the museum had adjacent apartments, they were later converted to additional galleries, along with an annex, and assorted shops.
More additions to the museum included not only extra exhibition rooms, but also the Nasher Sculpture Garden, and even a cafe. Due to the constant influx of tourists, a booking office and new entrance were added to the museum.
All of these additions and expansions have effectively doubled the size of the museum since it originally opened.
Of all the islands in the Venetian Lagoon, the Murano is only smaller than one other. Murano is best known around the world for its glass-making industry. As a result, the island is home to many glass factories.
This is so popular on the island that one of its main attractions is the Murano Glass Museum. The museum features everything from glass chandeliers (one of which weighs 727 lbs,) to goblets, Phoenician flasks, mirrors, and more.
Aside from the museum, another important landmark in Murano is the Basilica of Santa Maria and San Donato.
10. Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
Last but not least is the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, a 17th-century church considered among Venice’s most beautiful. Following the plague of 1630, this church was built in honor of the Virgin Mary.
Due to the weakness of the soil used, it took from 1631 to 1687. By then, the designer of the church had passed away.
As it stands today, this church is shaped like an octagon. Its central dome was stabilized using Baroque-style buttresses. The church also includes an additional dome and two bell towers.
If you’re going to visit this church, aim for a visit on November 21st, which marks the yearly celebration of the Festa della Madonna della Salute.