If you want to discover Venice, you should start from its main landmark attractions.
A map of the venues follows
01. Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark's Basilica)
This is the most important Catholic Church in the city, and one of the most important monuments in Italy. The famous winged lion, a symbol of the city and of the ancient ‘Venetian Republic’ is depicted on its façade’s pediment.
02. Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs)
The Ponte dei Sospiri is a Baroque bridge that by crossing the Rio di Palazzo, once connected the Palazzo Ducale to the prisons, and today it is one of Venice’s most romantic sights.
Open daily 8.30am-7pm
03. Canal Grande (Grand Canal)
Although it is known as ‘the most beautiful street in the world’, the Canale Grande is the main waterway of Venice and much more. Lined on both sides by an uninterrupted series of palaces, churches, hotels, and other public buildings, it offers a journey back into history, evoking the pomp and splendor of the ancient so-called Serenissima.
04. Teatro La Fenice (La Fenice Theater)
Twice destroyed by fire and twice restored to its former splendour (the last time was between 1996 and 2003), for centuries La Fenice (literally: the Phoenix) has been Venice’s principal stage for world-class opera, music, theater, and ballet.
Ticket office T: 041 2424
05. Scala Contarini del Bovolo (Bovolo Staircase)
Palazzo Contarini is an exquisite, late Gothic building. However, what makes it such a popular attraction today, was the addition, by its architects, in 1499, of an amazing, external ‘bovolo’ (snail-shell) stairwell enclosed in a cylinder perforated like lace.
Open Tues-Sun: 10am-1.30pm/2pm-6pm
06. Chiesa & Scuola Grande di San Rocco (Church and School of Saint Roch)
A Renaissance complex consisting of a church and adjoining palace, it was built as a sign of devotion to San Rocco who was called upon to protect the plague-stricken population of Venice during the 15th century.
Open daily, 9.30am-5.30pm. Closed on 25 December and 1 January.
07. Palazzo Ducale (The Doge's Palace)
A masterpiece of Gothic art and a repository of innumerable art treasures. Formerly the residence and government centre of the Doges, it is superbly decorated by artists like Titian,Tiepolo and Tintoretto.
Open daily, from 26 March to 31 October: 8.30am-7 pm; from 1 November to 25 March: 8.30am-5.30pm. Closed on 25 December and 1 January.
08. Ghetto (Jewish Ghetto)
During the 6th century, for the first time, the Venetian Senate issued a decree stating that the Jewish population should move to a specific part of the city, where they could be better ‘controlled’. In 1797, when Napoleon rolled into town, the ghetto was disbanded as an institution, and Jews were free to move elsewhere. Today, however, it is still the center of Venice’s ever-diminishing community of Jewish families.
09. Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)
This is the oldest of the four bridges crossing the Grand Canal. Witness to centuries of history, it is exciting to cross it (shutterbugs permitting), but even more spectacular when seen from the water, perhaps aboard a gondola.
10. The Islands
Although the whole of Venice lies on an archipelago, an ‘excursion to the islands’ generally means a half-day cruise on a boat to visit the islands of Murano, Torcello and Burano, three charming, small islands, rich in history and tradition. Visitors love so much these islands that there may be a risk of not finding a seat on the boat!