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Built over a lagoon, upon a collection of over 100 small islands, Venice is a city of extraordinary beauty. The city's scenic canals serve as major thoroughfares, reflecting the people and places that surround its teal waters. Gondolas glide past historic buildings in the pink glow of sunset. The Grand Canal forms the city's main waterway, lined on either side by an array of Renaissance and Gothic mansions, culminating at the Piazza San Marco where the eponymous basilica inspires awe. Bedecked in Byzantine mosaics, the basilica is just one of the city's many artistic treasures, while others await down narrow streets. Each morning, the city comes alive to the call of the gondoliers, while by night, Venetian bars are filled with diners eager to sample local cuisine. The lagoon itself is a thing of beauty, formed thousands of years ago and maintained by artificial means. Several small towns and cities occupy the islands, besides the city of Venice.
Piazzale Roma is a square located in the city of Venice, Italy. The square serves as the transport hub as it is the main entry point to Venice and is a meeting point of buses and cars that arrive in Venice. The Square has an open air bus station, car park and ferry stops. The Santa Lucia railway station is connected to the square via a footbridge Ponte della Costituzione. It is one of the only few places in Venice that have a vehicular access.
The Grand Canal carves a path through the heart of Venice and serves as the city's main thoroughfare. While water taxis and water buses operate on the waters, the canal winds its way through the center of the city, terminating at the lagoon at one end and the basin, at San Marco square, at the other. Along the way, the jade waters flow past historic structures and sprawling squares, alive with the call of the gondoliers. From the Medieval, Byzantine and Gothic to the Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical, the structures that line the Grand Canal form a chronicle of sorts of the city's architectural change across the ages. Romanticized by numerous movies and novels, a gondola ride down the Grand Canal is an essential Venetian experience.
The Ponte della Costituzione is better known by tourists and residents as the Calatrava Bridge from the name of Santiago Calatrava, the Spanish architect who designed and presented the project to the City of Venice. Besides the Ponte degli Scalzi, Ponte di Rialto, and Ponte dell'Accademia, it is now the 4th bridge to span the Grand Canal. The bridge opened to the public on September 11th, 2008 mired in controversies. It links the Venice Railway Station to the the Car and Bus Terminal of Piazzale Roma. It is a slightly arched bridge built in steel, glass and Istrian stone, the same material widely used to build all kind of structures in town. At night the lights from the deck and the handrail transform the bridge into a walkway of light.
San Simeone Piccolo is relatively new as compared to some of the ancient churches of Venice. It was constructed for 20 years from the period of 1718 to 1738. Architect Giovanni Antonio Scalfarotto experimented with the Neoclassical style of architecture and drew inspiration from other styles as well to create an eclectic and unique structure. Though not as well known as some other popular tourist religious sites in Venice, this church draws its fair share of visitors due to its proximity to one of the major railway stations in the city. It features a pistachio green metallic dome which eclipses its beautiful white façade. This church faces the Grand Canal and is easily accessible by water, road and railway.
One of the four bridges on the Grand Canal in Venice, Ponte degli Scalzi is one of the canal's important and frequented bridges. Built in 1934, this bridge was the creation of Eugenio Miozzi who designed this stone arch structure which replaced an older Austrian iron bridge. Before the inauguration of the fourth bridge, the Ponte degli Scalzi used to be closest to the bus station of the city, currently it is closest to the train station.
Located near the iconic Rialto Bridge is the world famous Mercato di Rialto. The market is frequented by tourists and locals like for its fresh fruit, vegetables, groceries and fish. The market stands in the heart of city and has the famous Grand Canal as its neighbor. Full of local color, a browse through the stalls is a must, even if you have nothing to buy. Prices are lower than in the shops and the fish is always extremely fresh. A few meat shops around the market also sell cavalo (horse meat). It is also a perfect place to collect souvenirs as a memorabilia from Venice.
Spanning the girth of the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge was once the only way to get across on foot. The majestic bridge arches over the murky waters of the canal, allowing ample room for the gondolas and water buses to pass underneath. The bridge was built in between 1588 and 1591, replacing predecessors from 12th Century onward. Designed by Antonio da Ponte, the bridge has survived unscathed for over four centuries. Today, the Rialto is only one of the four bridges that serve the canal but remains the most prominent. Small shops selling all kinds of souvenirs and curiosities run the length of the bridge while the Mercato di Rialto is a popular local market nearby.
Palazzo Grassi is situated in an imposing palace designed by Massari, right opposite Cà Rezzonico. This 18th-century building has changed many hands and was used as a center for arts by the Fiat group who had it restored. It is now owned by François Pinault and hosts regular temporary exhibits from his personal collection. Those interested in art and architecture will find their ground floor bookshop fascinating with their impressive selection. Make a pit stop at their on-site cafe to replenish yourself before heading out for your Venetian exploration.
Venice has only four bridges that traverse the famous Grand Canal. Ponte dell'Accademia is one of them connecting the neighborhoods of San Marco and Dorsoduro. It was originally built in 1854 and reconstructed twice to form the present structure. Though the bridge itself is not too great to look at, it affords magnificent views of gondolas and water taxis sailing through the Grand Canal and the play of sunlight creating myriad shadows on the surrounding red Venetian buildings. It is also a romantic spot and a popular destination with couples who wait to watch the awe-inspiring sunsets. Despite it being illegal, many couples attach talismans and love locks to the metallic rails of Ponte dell'Accademia as a symbol of eternal love.
Designed by 20-year-old Longhena, this church is a masterpiece of 17th-century architecture. The dominating feature is its octagonal dome, which contains a lantern showing an image of the Madonna; while the smaller dome has a statue of San Marco. The interior consists of a nave, three chapels and a floor made of multicolored marble with a design of five roses in the center. The magnificent altar, also designed by Longhena, is particularly ornate. To its right is Tintoretto's Le Nozze di Cana, while the ceiling of the vestry is adorned with paintings by Titian.
Richly adorned with gold mosaics, intricate carvings and marble arches, Saint Mark's Basilica is a glorious example of Byzantine architecture. The basilica was originally built in the 9th Century to house the remains of Saint Mark. Destroyed in 932 CE, the church was later rebuilt to a better design and served as the Doge's chapel until 1807 when it replaced the Basilica di San Pietro in Castello as the cathedral of the Archdiocese. Although the architectural plan of the church has remained largely unchanged since the 12th Century, generous adornments were added over the years, creating one of Italy's most impressive collections of ecclesiastical art. Inside, the ceilings are made of gold mosaics, full of intriguing architectural details. One of Venice's most iconic structures, the Saint Mark's Basilica sits amid Piazza San Marco at one end of the Grand Canal.