Venice Attractions: 14 Highlights of the Lagoon City (2019)

Venice, La Serenissima (currently the “serene”): The city in northern Italy is one of those places with incomparable charm, which is not least due to the uniqueness of the entire cityscape.

The most famous sights in Venice: St. Mark’s Basilica, St. Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace, the Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal.

In this article, we present you not only the most famous buildings and canals, but also other highlights of the lagoon city in northern Italy. So come on a little walk and let yourself be enchanted.

Here you will find cheap tickets for the Venice attractions and tours

  1. Canal Grande

Almost 4 km meanders the Canal Grande (yes, without “e” at the end) through the city. The width of the canal varies between 30 and 70 meters, the depth is up to 5 meters. The lagoon’s main waterway separates Sestieri San Marco, Cannaregio and Castello (on the left) from the Dorsoduro, San Polo & Santa Croce districts on the right bank.

The Grand Canal is lined with over 200 stately palaces that characterize the entire cityscape. You can cross the waterway, on which countless famous gondolas frolic in the summer, over various bridges. The oldest of these is the Rialto Bridge, which until the construction of the Scalzi Bridge and the Accademia Bridge in the 19th century was the only permanent connection across the Grand Canal.

Our tip:

You should not miss a gondola ride on the Grand Canal during a visit to Venice. The prices are unfortunately not much to do, officially costs a gondola ride € 31 per person for about 30 to 40 minutes – is not traded in the rule.

The gondolas accommodate a maximum of 6 people, but for two it is the most romantic.

  1. Rialto bridge

The Rialto Bridge is one of the most famous buildings of the lagoon city and thus an absolute Venice must see. A total of 48 m in length and 22 m in width measures the oldest bridge in the city. The bridge connects the neighborhoods of San Marco and San Polo. The name of the bridge comes from the Rialto area of San Polo, which was one of the most important trading venues in Venice several centuries ago.

However, the bridge did not bear its name from the beginning: the bridge’s first design was made by “Nicolò Barattiere”, an architect of his time, and bore the name “Ponte della Moneta”. Almost 70 years later, the bridge was redesigned and more closely linked to the market – since then it bears its present name.

  1. St. Mark’s Square

If you think of Venice, you immediately think of St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco). Venice’s most important and probably most famous square is 175 meters long and measures 82 meters in width.

By the way:

Piazza San Marco is the only square in Venice bearing the name Piazza; the other places in the city are called campi. “Campi” comes from the Italian word campo, which means “the field” in German; originally these places were not paved.

The image of St. Mark’s Square, once known as the Salon of Europe, is shaped by the Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Church), which gives the square its name. During the peak tourist season in spring and summer, St. Mark’s Square is populated by countless tourists, photographers and pigeons. St. Mark’s Square also appears in many Hollywood films – for example in the two James Bond films “Moonraker” with Roger Moore and “Casino Royale” with Daniel Craig. In its extension by the so-called Piazzetta St. Mark’s Square extends to just before the Doge’s Palace.

  1. Dogenpalast

The Doge’s Palace is one of the sightseeing highlights in Venice. At the time of the Venetian Republic, the palace was a symbol of the power, art and culture of the empire. Originally founded in the 11th century, the Palazzo Ducale, the Italian name of the Doge’s Palace, was a castle. Only through changes in the 14th and 15th centuries, he received his famous Gothic design.

The Doge’s Palace then served the doge as a residence. The Doge (also called Doxe) was the highest official in the Republic. The term goes back to the Roman “dux”, which was the supreme military commander of a frontier province with the Romans from the 4th century.

The Doge’s Palace was opened to the public for the first time in 1796. On the first floor of the building there were small institutions such as law offices and the Marineamt. The main rooms of the palace, however, were on the second floor. These included the Great Council Hall, the voting room where the Doge was elected, and the Doge’s private apartments.

On the third floor of the palace was at that time the so-called Sala del Colleggio. Here mainly foreign ambassadors were received; but also by ordinary citizens the hall was used to submit complaints and solve problems.

  1. Bridge of Sighs

One of the questions that many Venice tourists face on their first visit to the city is why the Bridge of Sighs (Italian: Ponte dei Sospiri) is named after its name.

The answer is quite simple:

Because the bridge connects the Doge’s Palace with the Prigioni Nuove (the “new” prison in Venice), the prisoners were able to take a last look at freedom from the bridge with a deep sigh.

The 11 meter long, but very narrow white limestone bridge was built by the grandson of the architect who was responsible for the construction of the Rialto Bridge.

If you want to shoot some photos:

You have an excellent view of the Bridge of Sighs from the “Ponte della Paglia”, a bridge over the Rio de Palazzo or the Canonica. Of course, one can also directly visit the complex of buildings that is connected by the Bridge of Sighs and look through the small holes of the bridge. You get access via the Doge’s Palace.

  1. Markusdom

The Basilica di San Marco, the Italian name of St. Mark’s Basilica, was the central state sanctuary of the former Republic of Venice. Since 1807 the basilica is the cathedral of the patriarchs (a church office) of Venice. A special feature of St. Mark’s Cathedral is its five domes. But not only from the outside, also from the inside, the Byzantine-seeming church is full of sights:

Numerous mosaics, paintings and altars, above all the imposing golden altarpiece of the high altar, the so-called Pala d’oro, decorate the church space divided into three naves.

  1. Campanile di San Marco

Highest building of the city

Although the Campanile San Marco is a part of St. Mark’s Cathedral, but somehow a highlight in itself. That’s why the bell tower of the Basilica di San Marco of course gets its own section. With a height of 98.6 meters, the tower is the highest tower of the cathedral and the tallest building in the entire city of Venice. In its original function, the spire served as a lighthouse to the ships approaching the lagoon. Various towers in Slovenia, Croatia and today’s Italian region of Veneto are to be seen as citations of the Markusturms.

At the time of the Republic of Venice, the towers were erected as a sign of the far-reaching power of the “Serenissima”. The gigantic view from the Markusturm was already enjoyed by emperors like the German Emperor Friedrich IV and the French Emperor Napoleon. From the campanile you can overlook the entire lagoon.

For running lazes: There is also a lift.

  1. Scuola Grande di San Rocco

As Scuole called in the Republic of Venice, associations, guilds, guilds and other spiritual and charitable connections. The most important task of Scuolen was to look after the dying and take care of the bereaved. Also, caring for the poor was part of her job. The Scuole of Venice, the best preserved to this day, is the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. Named after Saint Roch of Montpellier, Scuola is famous for its magnificent interior design and numerous paintings. If you leave out the stairway that connects the two floors of the Scuola San Rocco, all the wall and ceiling paintings are by the famous Italian painter Tintoretto.

Tip for the visit of the Scuola:

Visit the paintings best in their chronological order. To do this you should ideally start at the Sala dell’Abergo, where the works created by Tintoretto between 1564 and 1567 can be found. Continue with the works from 1576 to 1581 in the Sala Superiore, before you can admire the pictures from 1582 to 1587 in the Sala Terrana at the end of the tour.

  1. Cannaregio

Cannaregio is by far the most densely populated of the six districts of the historic center of Venice. The sestiere is located on a total of 33 individual islands. The Grand Canal also begins here: in the shape of an upturned “S”, it winds its way from Cannaregio to the district of San Marco. If you like, Cannaregio is the district of the Venetian aborigines.

Most of the workers and employees live here. Also numerous small business enterprises are settled in this Sestiere. The only exception is the Strada Nova, a main tourist area of Venice. The road, which at its inauguration was still called Via Vittorio Emanuele II, connects the Campo Santi Apostoli via the Campo San Felice with the Campo Santa Fosca.

Along the Strada Nova are numerous hotels, cafes, boutiques, souvenir shops, restaurants and bars; the ideal place to turn night into day in Venice.

  1. Musica A Palazzo

The Musica A Palazzo is a series of events in the Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto in Venice. Translated into German, “Musica a Palazzo” means “music in the palace”.

The special: Instead of sitting in the ranks and following the music and drama of the opera, you visit the various rooms of the palace during a visit to an event together with the artists.

Highlights of the 15th century palazzo include works by Tiepolo, Fontebasso, Mingozzi, Carpoforo, Mazzetti and Tencalla.

  1. Lido di Venezia

The Lido (completely “Lido di Venezia”) is a 4 km ² large, upstream coastal strip that separates Venice from the open Adriatic Sea. Already in the 19th century, the strip developed into an elegant location with numerous luxury hotels. The fashionable place is also known from literature: The Lido is the scene of the novel “Death in Venice” by Thomas Mann. Annual highlight at the Lido di Venezia: The Venice Film Festival. Since 1932, between the end of August and the beginning of September, international stars have taken hold of the handle.

  1. Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Another “Venice must see”, especially for art lovers, is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The Modern Art Collection is housed in the beautiful Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal and opened in 1980 as a museum. Here you can admire, among others, works of art by Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Hans Arp.

The art collection goes back to the namesake Peggy Guggenheim (actually Marguerite Guggenheim), an art collector from one of the wealthiest families in the United States. She was one of the three daughters of New York businessman Benjamin Guggenheim and niece of industrialist and art collector Solomon R. Guggenheim, the founder of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York City. After leading her own gallery in New York between 1942 and 1947, she returned to Europe (as early as the early 1930s, Peggy Guggenheim lived briefly in Paris but later fled to New York for her Jewish background) and displayed her collection at the Biennale 1948 in Venice.

A year later, she bought the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal, an unfinished palace from the 18th century, which she then used as a residence and exhibition space. Peggy Guggenheim is buried next to her dogs in the garden of the Palazzo.

  1. Teatro La Fenice

The Gran Teatro La Fenice is the largest and by far the best known opera house in Venice. It was opened in 1792 after the city’s most important opera house was destroyed by fire. Since the owners of the previous opera house could not agree on the form in which it should be rebuilt, they decided to build a new opera house.

The name La Fenice means “Phoenix” in German and alludes to the fate of the old opera house as well as the mythical bird that burns at the end of its life to be resurrected from its ashes. Shortly after the opening, the Teatro La Fenice became one of the most successful opera houses in Europe. World famous pieces such as La Traviata (1853) were premiered here. Towards the end of the twentieth century, the opera house suffered the same fate as its predecessor: the Teatro La Fenice once again burned to the ground. Again, there was controversy over the way of rebuilding.

So this began only a few years later:

Based on photos and film documents, the Teatro La Fenice has been faithfully reconstructed down to the last detail. After the most up to date state – of – the – art stage machinery in the world had been completed and installed, opera operations resumed in November 2004. The first performance after the reconstruction was again La Traviata.

  1. Carnival in Venice

In addition to the film festival, the carnival in Venice is one of the annual highlights. The Venetian form of the Christian festival is made very special by the world-famous masks and imposing fireworks. The origins of Carnival in Venice date back to the 12th century, deep in the past. Beyond the borders of Venice, the festival then became known in the 18th century, during his lifetime Giacomo Casanova.

After the Republic of Venice was annexed to Austria in 1797 and lost its independence through Napoleon, it was once over with the carnival in Venice; even the famous carnival masks, which were also worn for other festivities, were said to have been banned between 1797 and 1815.

It was not until 1976 that Casanova, a major success at the 1979 Biennale, saw the great renaissance of the Venetian carnival. Hoteliers and restaurateurs followed tradition and created the attraction that is still in use today, known all over the world.

Carnival in Venice dates 2018:

Saturday the 27th of January until Tuesday the 13th of February

Conveniently discover the sights of Venice

If you’ve had a painful wanderlust reading the info on the highlights in Venice, we suggest you take a look at our cheap hotel vouchers for the lagoon city. Not only the prices and inclusive services are correct, also the arrival to Venice is quite uncomplicated:

By car you are from the southern border of Germany in about 5 hours on the spot, by plane it takes just over an hour from Munich or about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Hamburg or Berlin.