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Best Free Sites in Venice

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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.

Host of the famous Venice Biennale Art Festival; Giardini della Biennale is a vast parkland located in the east of Venice. These gardens were created in the Napoleonic era by draining marsh land and today the garden consists of 30 permanent pavilions which are assigned to various countries. During the Venice Biennale Art Festival these pavilions are used by those particular countries for showcasing performances. The garden is worth a visit, even in the absence of the festival, for its winding paths, canopy of trees, and cute cats that run around.

Construction of this church started at the end of the 14th Century by the Dominican friars. It was completed at the beginning of the 15th Century. The remains of 25 Doges are buried here and over these centuries the church has earned the status of a minor basilica. The sepulchral monuments are in the care of the Lombardi family and the monuments of Nicolo Marcello, Pietro Lombardo and Pietro Mocenigo are masterpieces by the same sculptor, whose works occupy the whole left side of the entrance. Also impressive is the monument erected in the honor of Andrea Vendramin, and the paintings by Veronese and Piazzetta. A beautiful juxtaposition of Gothic as well as Renaissance-style architecture, San Zanipolo is a must-visit.

The Lido di Venezia is a pristine sandbar that has become a thriving tourist destination, thanks to its accessibility from mainland Venice. One of the most photographed and talked about places in Venice, this island is not only famous for its panoramic views and beautiful summer beaches but also home to Venice Film Festival. Most of these beaches are private and often visited by international celebrities from diverse fields. The gorgeous sandbar, stretching luxuriously to almost 11 kilometers (6.83 miles), has featured exclusively as the location in Thomas Mann's Death in Venice.

Venice is the land of canals and a trip to this breathtaking city is never complete without a visit to its myriad waterfronts. While in this island city, head to its southern tip in the Dorsoduro neighborhood where you will come across the Zattere Promenade. This seafront once served as a quay and was active in the trade of timber. Sauntering along this walkway, visitors are flanked by the deep blue waters on one side and magnificent Venetian buildings, exhibiting 15th and 16th century architecture, on the other. Whether you are ambling in solitude and soaking in the tranquility of the spot, strolling with family or friends, or walking hand in hand with a loved one, this promenade will ensure a magical experience for all.

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