Venice is insanely beautiful. Every step will have you wanting to take out your camera and start snapping. Having visited Venice several times, I would recommend taking the time to just walk through this beautiful city and get a bit lost. It is one of the best ways to appreciate its beauty.
Once you’ve absorbed the Venetian atmosphere it is time to get out that bucket list and start ticking off landmarks in Venice. You won’t be surprised to read that Venice has a lot of landmarks and they are all rather beautiful and worth your time.
So here are the 27 Landmarks in Venice you won’t want to miss.
27 Landmarks in Venice
Table of Contents
- 1 27 Landmarks in Venice
- 1.1 1. Saint Mark’s Basilica, Venice
- 1.2 2. Palazzo Ca’ Pessaro
- 1.3 3. Palazzo Ca’ Rezzonico
- 1.4 4. Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square)
- 1.5 5. The Gondola
- 1.6 6. Palazzo Grimani
- 1.7 7. Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
- 1.8 8. Palazzo Corner Loredan
- 1.9 9. San Giorgio Maggiore
- 1.10 10. Palazzo Ca’ D’Oro (Golden House)
- 1.11 11. Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute
- 1.12 12. Palazzo Grassi
- 1.13 13. Palazzo Ducale (the Doge’s Palace)
- 1.14 14. Canalazzo (The Grand Canal)
- 1.15 15. Rialto Bridge
- 1.16 16. Peggy Guggenheim Collection
- 1.17 17. Burano
- 1.18 18. The Bridge of Sighs
- 1.19 19. Scuola Grande Di San Rocco
- 1.20 20. Gallerie Dell’Accademia
- 1.21 21. Santa Maria dei Miracoli
- 1.22 22. Arsenal and Museum of Naval History
- 1.23 23. Basilica Santi Giovanni e Paolo (Basilica of Saint John and Paul).
- 1.24 24. Venice Lido
- 1.25 24. Ponte dell’Accademia
- 1.26 26. Ponte de Pugni (The Bridge of Fists)
- 1.27 27. Ponte della Paglia
- 2 Landmarks in Venice – Hotels
1. Saint Mark’s Basilica, Venice
Venice is an incredible city, filled with impressive churches and beautiful Venetian palaces, but this basilica is definitely the top attraction to see. It was first built in the early 9th century but was rebuilt in 1063 after a fire destroyed it.
Outside, you’ll see gorgeous Byzantine architecture. Inside, you can admire intricate mosaics and other relics. For an unforgettable experience, you should definitely consider a guided tour that takes you to both Saint Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace.
To get to these popular tourist attractions, you can step onto a Vaporetto for a trip (they’re quite affordable) through the Venetian canals. Alternatively, you can reach the basilica on foot, but keep in mind that it’s on the southern end of Venice. The closest bridge is the Ponte dell’Accademia.
2. Palazzo Ca’ Pessaro
This beautiful building is now the Museum of Modern Art in Venice. Palazzo Ca’ Pessaro has been beautifully maintained over the years. Don’t miss the amazing views of the Grand Canal and the interior courtyard.
3. Palazzo Ca’ Rezzonico
The Rezzonico family bought this Venetian Palazzo in the mid-18th century and brought the top artists of the day onboard to decorate. Palazzo Ca’ Rezzonico is one of the most decadent interiors of any of the Venetian palaces.
This building from the 1700s is also now a museum. Explore the artwork across the lower floors and don’t miss a trip to the attic and some stunning views of Venice.
4. Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square)
St Mark’s Square is Venice’s main square and the only one with the title of Piazza (most of the rest are referred to as Campi or fields). Without question this is one of the most magnificent squares in the world. Yes, a coffee at St Mark’s Square will cost almost as much as your dinner in Venice but it is worth it to sit and sip in one of the world’s most beautiful places.
At the eastern end of the square is St Mark’s Basilica. On the north side of St Mark’s Basilica are two marble lion statues in a small area known as Piazzetta San Giovanni XXIII. Just past the lions is St Mark’s Clocktower which was was completed in 1499.
A long arcade runs along the north of St Mark’s Square with buildings known as the Procuratie Vecchie or the old procuraracies. Today this arcade is filled with shops and restaurants. It is home to one of the two most well known cafes on the square, Caffe Quadri.
The south side of Piazza San Marco is known as the Procuratie Nuove. This side is also home to shops and restaurants and the second most well know cafe, Caffe Florian.
5. The Gondola
Moving boats aren’t normally landmarks but I don’t think you can write an article about Venice landmarks and not include gondolas. There are roughly 400 licensed gondoliers in Venice. For centuries the gondola was the main way to get around this water based city.
This flat bottomed boat was designed to suit the canals of Venice. The gondola’s shape is unique. It is asymmetrical along its length which makes it easier to use the characteristic single oar.
Today of course the Gondola ride is a tourist attraction rather than a means of transport. By all means do enjoy a gondola ride in Venice. I have visited nearly 80 countries and am a travel blogger and I am still a big fan of doing the most famous tourist activity in a city.
Or if you want a much cheaper option that mimics the original transport intent of the gondola hop on Vaporetto 1 and explore Venice on a boat for just a few euros.
6. Palazzo Grimani
This Venetian palace was best known for its collections of antique Greek and Roman artifacts. Palazzo Grimani was opened to the public in 2008 and now often hosts modern art exhibits.
7. Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
This Venetian church is one of the city’s largest and its humble exterior doesn’t suggest its magnificent interiors. Known locally as Ios Frari, Santa Mario Gloriosa dei Frari took over 100 years to build and was finished in the mid fifteenth century. It has the second highest bell tower in Venice.
The highlight of the interior of this church in Venice is a painting by Titian called “Assumption of the Virgin”. It sits on the main altar of the church. And don’t miss the rather large tomb to 18th century sculptor Antonio Canova. His students made the tomb and it seems that they very much enjoyed their classes with Canova.
8. Palazzo Corner Loredan
This palace was completed in 1362 and is located near the Rialto Bridge. It feaures the typical and very beautiful Byzantine arches. Today Palazzo Corner Loredan serves as Venice’s town hall.
9. San Giorgio Maggiore
San Giorgio Maggiore is a much photographed island in Venice. The island dates back to 790 when a church was built upon it. The island was in the hands of Benedictine Monks for several centuries until Napoleon claimed it in the 19th century and then Count Vittorio Cini bought the island in 1951.
Cini brought the original monastery back to its formal glory in honour of his son, Giorgio. Today, the bell tower of the San Giorgio Maggiore church offers stunning views over Venice. San Giogrio Maggiore church is a beautiful white building that was completed in 1611.
10. Palazzo Ca’ D’Oro (Golden House)
As you may have guessed from the name, the facade of this Venetian palace appears to be gold. Palazzo Ca’ D’oro faces the Grand Canal and hosts the Franchetti Gallery. Don’t miss the terraces and the inner courtyard.
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11. Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute
The light coloured dome of Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute can be seen from all over Venice. The basilica was built in 1631 to celebrate the end of the plague. The plague took the lives of many Venetians. The interior decoration of this Venetian church is quite simple but there are paintings by Titian and Tintoretto.
12. Palazzo Grassi
This was the last of the Venetian palaces to be built in 1766 when Napoleon was just around the corner. It is the only palace in Venice built in the Neoclassic architecture style.
Palazzo Grassi was purchased by the Fiat car company in 1984 and beautifully restored. Alas, they fell on hard times and today the building is owned by the wealthy Frenchman Francois Pinault. It is now also a museum which exhibits Pinault’s extensive art collection.
13. Palazzo Ducale (the Doge’s Palace)
The Doge’s Palace or Palazzo Ducale was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme leader of what was then a republic. It was also home to the Great Council and the Council of Ten. There were law courts, stairways, courtyards, and even prison cells – this is a big palace!
Built in 1340 Palazzo Ducale became a museum in 1923 and the palace is located on St Mark’s Square. When it comes to purchasing tickets, Doge’s Palace is included in Saint Mark’s Square museum pass which represents good value if you intend to visit all of those museums.
Another fantastic option is to book the Secret Itineraries Tour. This tour includes the less well-known elements of the Palazzo Ducale such as secret passageways, prisons, and the gorgeous yet infamous Bridge of Sighs (as the view was the last thing that prisoners saw before being escorted down to their cells).
14. Canalazzo (The Grand Canal)
This 3800 metre long waterway splits the city of Venice into two sides. Seen from above, the Grand Canal takes the shape of an S. Ships of over 400 tons used to sail down the Grand Canal in Venice. Beautiful buildings line the canal (one of the first examples of expensive real estate for water views).
Four different bridges cross the Grand Canal: The Constitution Bridge (Ponte Della Costituzione), Ponte Degli Scalzi, the Rialto Bridge and the Accademia Bridge. Explore the Grand Canal by crossing these bridges or take a vaporetto through the Grand Canal to get some gorgeous views.
The Grand Canal ends in St Mark’s Square with a stunning view of Saint Mark’s Square, Doge’s Palace, the Bell Tower, the church of Salute, and Custom Point. The houses along the Grand Canal continue to be the most desirable real estate in Venice (and possibly Italy, Europe, and the world)!.
15. Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge is the first one built along the canal in Venice. It began as a wooden drawbridge that permitted sailing ships to travel between St Marks basin and the Piazzale Roma area. In 1588 the Rialto Bridge was re-built in white marble and until 1854 it was the only bridge which crossed the Grand Canal.
This Venetian bridge is 48 metres long, 22 metres wide and 7.5 metres high. It has three parallel staircases and several small arcades. This area is also well known for the Rialto Market which is open every day apart from Sundays. The market runs from the San Polo area to Rialto Bridge.
16. Peggy Guggenheim Collection
The Guggenheim Collection is one of the most important modern art museums in Italy. It is in a beautiful palace with a fantastic location on the Grand Canal. Peggy Guggenheim was an American millionaire with a passion for art. She lived in Venice from 1948 until her death in 1979.
She purchased the Palazzo Venier Dei Leoni where the museum is located in 1949. The collection opened a year after her death in 1980. Palazzo Venier Dei Leoni also has a beatiful terrace as well as a sculpture garden.
Lovely Burano may be the most colourful island in Italy. This small fishing village is filled with colourful buildings, cute fishing boats and of course water. Less than seven miles from Venice, it is a must-visit on any Venice itinerary.
It is believed that the tradition of such colourful homes started to assist fishermen in finding their way home – and in distinguishing the houses from one another. Today, residents must apply to repaint their homes and have only a small palette from which to choose.
In addition to colourful houses, Burano is known for lace. The women of Burano have been making lace since the 14th century. If you’d like to find out more head to Museo Merlotto in Piazza Galuppi.
If you’re looking for beautiful blown glass then you’ll want to visit the island of Murano which is 6 miles from Burano.
18. The Bridge of Sighs
This iconic Venetian bridge was built in 1600 to connect the Doge’s Palace to the prison across the canal. The bridge was constructed to take prisoners who had been sentenced at Doge’s Palace to their cells in the prison. The Bridge of Sighs has a small window. Legend has it that prisoners would sigh deeply when they saw this last glimpse of the outside world and thus the Bridge of Sighs became the name of this bridge in Venice.
The bridge is made from white limestone and was designed by Antonio Contino, the nephew and apprentice of Antonio Da Ponte, designer of the Rialto Bridge. The bridge is virtually enclosed apart from the two small windows with lattice screens. A stone wall divides the interior of the Bridge of Sighs so that prisoners coming and going would never pass each other.
It is tradition to kiss your loved one on a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs.
19. Scuola Grande Di San Rocco
Scuola Grande Di San Rocco was established in 1478 as a confraternity. A confraternity is a religious organisation made up of volunteers. A confraternity is led by citizens rather than priests. The building was dedicated to Saint Roch who was believed to offer protection against the plague.
The interior of the building is filled with paintings by the famous Italian artist Tintoretto. The most impressive site for many in Scuola Grande di San Rocco is the Sala Superior on the upper floor. This is where fellows would meet and where there are many Tintoretto paintings.
Scuola Grande Di San Rocco is about a ten minute walk from St Mark’s Square.
20. Gallerie Dell’Accademia
Gallerie Dell’Accademia has the largest collection of Venetian art in the world. It includes paintings from Tiziano, Verones, Canaletto and Bellini. The Accademia opened to the public in 1817. Its purpose was to bring together all of the pre-nineteenth century Venetian art. The current collection includes over 800 paintings.
Gallerie Dell’ Accademia is located in the Scuola della Carita. This complex also includes the Chiesa di Santat Maria della Carita and the Canonici Lateranensi Monastery.
21. Santa Maria dei Miracoli
Santa Maria dei Miracoli was built between 1481 and 1489 by Pietro Lombardo. The aim was to provide a home for the Nicolo di Pietro’s Madonna icon. This is the painting which famously began to weep. This is a church with lots of lovely detail. Look out for the angels and mermaids carved into the columns by the sanctuary and the wooden ceiling panels with 50 individual portraits.
The Arsenal in the east of Venice was the largest shipyard in the world for quite some time. Indeed, the first ships were built at the Arsenal in Venice in the 12th century. The arsenal site covers 10% of Venice’s total area. Many of the buildings have been preserved but alas they cannot be visited as this is still a military area for the Italian Army. However, there are some small areas which can be explored by tourists.
23. Basilica Santi Giovanni e Paolo (Basilica of Saint John and Paul).
Basilica Santi Giovannie e Paolo is the largest church in Venice. It is home to the tombs of 27 Doges as well as some major paintings. It took nearly one century to build this Venetian church and it finally opened in 1430. Apparently the Doge Jacopo Tiepolo had a vision which told him that the land on which the church was built should be dedicated to god’s preachers and he donated the land.
24. Venice Lido
This narrow strip of land is an island and is usually referred to as “The Lido”. The island separates the central part of the Venetian lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. Today the Lido is the seaside for Venetians. This island feels quite different to the rest of Venice. There are leafty residential streets, cyclists and cars. And these are some of the best beaches in Italy in this region.
24. Ponte dell’Accademia
Ponte dell’Accademia is one of the four bridges which cross the Grand Canal in Venice. This bridge links the San Marco District with the Accademia Gallery. It has fantastic views of Venice in both directions. In contrast to the rest of Venice, this is quite a plain bridge. It is made simply of wood.
A bridge was first built on this location in the nineteenth century. The wooden bridge was built between 1932 and 1933. At the time this design was a temporary solution until the right design was found but it ended up sticking.
26. Ponte de Pugni (The Bridge of Fists)
Ponte de Pugni is one of the most famous bridges in Venice. However, it isn’t for its beauty or its size – it is because in the 17th century fist fights were held on Ponte de Pugni. The first person to fall into the Grand Canal was the loser. Ponte de Pugni was chosen for these events as it didn’t have any railing.
The good news is these fist fights were outlawed in 1705 so you won’t have to worry about witnessing Venetians falling into the canal today. Instead, you will most likely see a boat or boats selling fruit and vegetables or the nearby Church of San Barnaba.
27. Ponte della Paglia
Virtually every visitor to Venice will cross Ponte della Paglia but they may well now know. This bridge is perhaps best known as one of the favourite places to capture a great photo of the Bridge of Sighs. The name Ponte dell Paglia comes from the boats which were filled with straw that passed through here to provide food for the donkeys and horses of Venice.
Landmarks in Venice – Hotels
Why not sleep in a landmark in Venice? Several of Venice’s beautiful palaces have been turned into boutique hotels.
1. Gritti Palace San Marco
Overlooking the Grand Canal, this is a hotel with a view! A 15th-century palazzo it became a luxury hotel in 1895. The suites have stunning views and have been home to guests like Ernest Hemingway and Somerset Maugham. And don’t miss the restaurant seating on the Grand Canal.
2. Ai Reali Costello
One of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, this refurbished ancient palace has a fantastic location in the heart of Venice and a spa. Ai Reali Costello Venice has canopied beds, a marble staircase, and parquet floors.
3. Ca’ Sagredo Cannaregio
Purchased in the 1700s by the Cannaregio family, this Venetian palazzo was filled with Renaissance paintings and artworks. Today it is an award-winning and beautiful hotel with 42 stunning rooms on the Grand Canal.
4. Ca’ Pisani Dorsodoru
This 29 room boutique hotel is located in a beautiful merchant’s house but it is very much modern design when you step inside. Ca Pisani is the perfect hotel if you would like the history and a beautiful exterior with modern design and comforts inside.
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5. Palazzina Grassi San Marco
Another example of a classic Venetian palace on the outside and ultra-modern interior design within but in this case, the interiors were designed by Philippe Starck. The key design theme at Palazzina Grassi is white which runs through the beautiful yet playful interior.
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