1. Bridge of Sighs
Built in 1600, the Bridge of Sights connects the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace to the New Prison across the Rio di Palazzo. According to one theory the name of the bridge comes from the suggestion that prisoners would “sigh” at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window on their way to the executioner.
2. Doge's Palace
During the prosperous centuries of the Venetian Republic, the city’s magistrates, or doges, ruled the city like royalty. The Palazzo Ducale was not only the residence of the doge but the city’s center of power and its administrative hub as well. Visitors who take the Secret Itineraries tour can also walk through hidden passageways to view the private council rooms, torture chambers and the prison cell from which Giacomo Casanova made his escape in 1756.
3. Saint Mark's Basilica
Situated in St. Mark’s Square, the soaring 30-story Campanile and the massive basilica behind it are two of the most popular tourist attractions in Venice. Both date to the 9th century but have been rebuilt and embellished extensively over the centuries. San Marco Basilica serves as a showcase for the wealth that Venice accumulated as a military power.Behind the tomb believed to hold the remains of Saint Mark stands the altarpiece Pala d’Oro, a jewel-adorned screen of gold that is considered one of the finest works of Byzantine craftsmanship in the world.
4. Saint Mark's Camanile
One of the most recognizable landmarks in the whole of Venice, il Campanile is located on the famous Piazza San Marco and is the tallest building in the city. Towering to a height of 99 meters, the bell tower was completed in 912, although the building we see before us today was built in 1912 after it suddenly collapsed. An elevator brings visitors straight to the top of the campanile, where they have a great view over Venice and the lagoon.
5. Saint Mark's Clocktower
Located on one side of Piazza San Marco, the Torre dell’Orologio is a lovely Renaissance building. It is an important historical and architectural site in the city, as its facade is home to a delightful astrological clock. St. Mark’s Clocktower sports two bronze figures on its roof that strike out the hour on a bell; lots of other lovely little designs and figures litter its facade. A statue of the Lion of St. Mark is present, as are the Virgin and Child and the beautifully decorated clock face itself. When in Piazza San Marco, make sure to visit the Torre dell’Orologio on the hour or even go inside the building to get a glimpse of how the machinery works.
6. Piazza San Marco
As the only public square in Venice, the Piazza San Marco has been the city’s main gathering place for centuries. Surrounded by open-air cafés and landmark attractions, including San Marco Basilica and the Palazzo Ducale, it’s the natural epicenter for any visit to the City of Canals. The square is actually laid out in a trapezoid shape that widens as it approaches the basilica.
7. Ride a Gondola: from Bacino Orseolo
From this location you will ride through some of the small canals into the Grand Canal
(EUR 40 pp - 30 minute ride)
8. Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge is one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal. For nearly three hundred years, it was the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot. The stone bridge, a single span designed by Antonio da Ponte, was completed in 1591 and was used to replace a wooden bridge that collapsed in 1524. The engineering of the bridge was considered so audacious that some architects predicted a future collapse. The bridge has defied its critics to become one of the architectural icons of Venice.
Originally known as the Palazzo Santa Sofia but now commonly known as the Ca’ d’Oro,the 15th century palazzo was designed by architect Giovanni Bon and his son Bartolomeo. Although the façade of this splendid structure no longer features the ornamentation that earned the place its “house of gold” nickname, the now pink-and-white building is a treasure trove of art. Located on the Grand Canal.
10. Santa Maria della Salute
Commonly called La Salute, this 17th-century church stands at the point where the Grand Canal meets the Venetian Lagoon. The white stone edifice with its massive dome was constructed as a shrine to the Virgin Mary for saving the city from a plague that killed one third of its population. In addition to the altar sculpture that depicts the “Madonna of Health” driving the demon Plague from Venice, there’s an extensive collection of works by Titian on display, including ceiling paintings of scenes from the Old Testament.
11. Church of San Giorgio Maggiore
Best known as the home of the 16th-century church of the same name, San Giorgio Maggiore is a small island located across the lagoon from St. Mark’s Square.The church features a façade clad in gleaming white marble and an open and airy interior that’s refreshingly bare of over-ornamentation. The main alter is graced by two of Tintoretto’s best paintings, the “Last Supper” and “The Fall of Manna.” Visitors can ride an elevator to the top of the church’s Neoclassic bell tower to enjoy a spectacular view of Venice.
12. Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
Beautiful to behold, the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari more commonly goes by the name of Frari and is one of the most important religious buildings in Venice. Built out of red brick, the church is constructed in the Gothic architectural style. Although the outside is quite plain, the interior is sumptuous to gaze upon and is home to some wonderful pieces of art which includes Titian’s Pesaro Madonna.