The only Venetian square to be granted the title of 'piazza', St. Mark's Square, or Piazza San Marco, is the city's political, religious and social center. The square lies at one end of the Grand Canal, surrounded by some of the city's most iconic historic edifices. The Basilica di San Marco is the focal point of the square - a 12th-century, Venetian-Byzantine church highlighted with gold mosaics and lavish carvings. On either side lie the Procuratie Vecchie, stately buildings that once harbored the offices and apartments of the procurators. Two columns erected in honor of the city's patron saints, St. Mark and St. Theodore of Amasea, stand nearby, while the splendid Doge's Palace, the towering Campanile, the Procuratie Nuove, the National Library, and a couple of museums take up the rest of the space around Venice's largest square. The city's history comes together at the awe-inspiring St. Mark's Square.
Chiesa di San Vidal is a historic former church in Venice with the magnificence of an ancient palace. A major landmark, this site is home to a year-round series of classical music concerts. Chamber music aficionados flock to the church to hear music performed in the grandest of settings. San Vidal is not open otherwise to the public.
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.
Layer upon layer of differing architectural styles come together to form the magnificent Doge's Palace. A symbol of the Venetian government and political heritage, the historic palace was once the seat of the Doge, the chief magistrate of the former Republic of Venice. The foundations of the complex were laid during the 14th Century. Through the years, the palace was repeatedly reconstructed, extended and restored, creating a mix of artistic and architectural styles ranging from the Medieval to the Renaissance. A masterpiece of Gothic design, the palace is replete with exquisite details like sculptures, frescoes, arches and graceful columns. The original Doge's Apartments, the Armory, the Prisons, the Courtyard and Loggias have all been beautifully restored, with numerous hidden treasures around every corner. This historic icon also houses the Museo dell'Opera and its extensive art collection.
Just around the corner from the Galleria dell'Accademia, on the Grand Canal is one of Venice's premier museums. This world-famous museum is run by the same institution, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, that manages the renowned Guggenheim Museum in New York. Peggy Guggenheim, was interested in contemporary art and came into contact with various artists who guided and educated her, including Alexander Calder and Marcel Duchamp. This museum houses her collection of contemporary art such as works by Bacon, Balla, Brancusi and Chagall. You'll also find masterpieces by the likes of De Chirico, Kandinsky, Klee, El Lissitskj, Magritte, Man Ray, Picasso and Pollock.
Punta della Dogana is a stunning art gallery located on the triangular piece of land that separates the Grand Canal from the Giudecca Canal. Set in the former customs house, a beautiful 17th-century building, this gallery houses the permanent collection of world's numero uno art collector, Francois Pinault. Here, you will find his famous personal collection, besides several other exhibits pertaining to contemporary art.
Located on the Grand Canal, Palazzo Barbarigo-Minotto is a 15th-century historical palace and is one of the prime attractions of the city. The charming historic building offers pristine views of the Grand Canal and its location represents the stunning architectural marvel of that era. The interiors of this palace are embellished with intricate details and the walls are adorned with stunning artworks. In association with Musica a Palazzo, it also hosts prominent cultural concerts and operas happening in the city.
This quaint chapel is one of the most important historic sites in the city, and is home to what is considered one of the masterpieces of Giotto- a complex series of frescoes which are a marvel to behold. The frescoes were completed in 1305. The name of the chapel is the surname of the man who commissioned Giotto. The chapel is equipped with modern instruments that make for interactive tours. Reservations in order to visit the chapel are recommended.
Located inside Giardino Groggia, Teatrino Groggia is a historic building that was built way back in the 1600s. It has since been restored, and was opened as a theater in 2001, with effort of the city council. The 99 seat theater hosts a variety of cultural performances, with everyone from theater companies to school kids having displayed their talent here.
Bugno Art Gallery was established in 1991 by Massimiliano Bugno and is among the esteemed contemporary art galleries in town. Its floor-to-ceiling windows overlooks the Teatro La Fenice and it is near the Piazza San Marco. Their collection is a compilation of modern, contemporary and photographic works of acclaimed and emerging domestic as well as international artists. These include the likes of Mario Deluigi, Emilio Vedova, Giancarlo Franco, Mauro Cappelletti, Fabio Bianco, Andrés David Carrara, Giovanni Chiaramonte and Andrea Morucchio. This bi-level gallery is a popular stopover for art collectors and enthusiasts alike.
Houses of every imaginable hue line the canals of Burano - an island in the Venetian lagoon. A collection of brightly colored fisherman's cottages form the core of this modest town, vying for attention alongside teal canals plied by equally vibrant boats. Burano is famous for its lace, a local tradition that dates back to the 16th Century. Down the narrow alleys and winding paths, local women can still be seen working on these intricate works of art. Burano's Museo del Merletto chronicles the history of this craft and showcases an extensive collection of lace. The leaning campanile of the Church of San Martino, wooden terraces and quaint bridges are other charming sights.