Top Historic Sights in Venice, Italy

Explore the historic highlights of Venice

Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco, in English as St Mark's Square, is the principal public square of Venice and central point of interest for visitors. The Square is dominated at its eastern end by the great Basilica of St. Mark. To the left is the long arcade along the north side of the Piazza, the buildings on this side are known as the Procuratie Vecchie, the old procuracies, formerly the homes and offices of the Procurators of St. M ...
Founded: 9th century | Location: Venice, Italy

St Mark's Basilica

The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark (Basilica di San Marco is the most famous of the Venice"s churches and one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. It lies at the eastern end of the Piazza San Marco, adjacent and connected to the Doge"s Palace. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has only been the city"s cathedral since 1807, when it became the seat of the Patr ...
Founded: 1063-1093 | Location: Venice, Italy

St Mark's Clocktower

St. Mark"s Clock Tower in Venice is an early Renaissance building on the north side of the Piazza San Marco, at the entrance to the Merceria. It comprises a tower, which contains the clock, and lower buildings on each side. Both the tower and the clock date from the last decade of the 15th century, though the mechanism of the clock has subsequently been much altered. It was placed where the clock would be visible fr ...
Founded: 1496 | Location: Venice, Italy

Doge's Palace

The Venetian Gothic Doge"s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) is one of the main landmarks of the city of Venice. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice, opening as a museum in 1923. Today, it is a museum. History  In 810, Doge Angelo Partecipazio moved the seat of government from the island of Malamocco to the area of the present-day Rialto. However, no trace ...
Founded: 1340 | Location: Venice, Italy

Bridge of Sighs

The Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri) passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the New Prison (Prigioni Nuove) to the interrogation rooms in the Doge"s Palace. The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone, has windows with stone bars, and It was designed by Antonio Contino and was built in 1600. The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment. The brid ...
Founded: 1600 | Location: Venice, Italy

Museo Correr

The Museo Correr has rich and varied collections of art and history of Venice. The Museo Correr originated with the collection bequeathed to the city of Venice in 1830 by Teodoro Correr. A member of a traditional Venetian family, Correr was a meticulous and passionate collector, dedicating most of his life to the collection of both works of art and documents or individual objects that reflected the history of Venice. Up ...
Founded: 1830 | Location: Venice, Italy

Rialto Bridge

The Rialto Bridge is the oldest bridge across the canal, and was the dividing line for the districts of San Marco and San Polo. The first dry crossing of the Grand Canal was a pontoon bridge built in 1181 by Nicolò Barattieri. The development and importance of the Rialto market on the eastern bank increased traffic on the floating bridge, so it was replaced in 1255 by a wooden bridge. This structure had two inclined ram ...
Founded: 1588-1591 | Location: Venice, Italy

Gallerie dell'Accademia

The Gallerie dell'Accademia is a museum gallery of pre-19th-century art in Venice. The former Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia was founded in 1750. In 1807 the academy was re-founded by Napoleonic decree and moved to the Palladian complex of the Scuola della Carità, where the Gallerie dell'Accademia are still housed. The collections of the Accademia were first opened to the public in 1817. The Gallerie dell’Accadem ...
Founded: 1750 | Location: Venice, Italy

Santa Maria della Salute

Santa Maria della Salute (Saint Mary of Health), commonly known simply as the Salute, stands on the narrow finger of Punta della Dogana, between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal, making the church visible when entering the Piazza San Marco from the water. The Salute is part of the parish of the Gesuati and is the most recent of the so-called plague churches. In 1630, Venice experienced an unusually devastating outb ...
Founded: 1631 | Location: Venice, Italy

Cà d'Oro Palace

Palazzo Santa Sofia is known as Ca" d"Oro ('golden house') due to the gilt and polychrome external decorations which once adorned its walls. The palace was built between 1428 and 1430 for the Contarini family, who provided Venice with eight Doges between 1043 and 1676. The architects of the Ca d"Oro were Giovanni Bon and his son Bartolomeo Bon. Following the fall of the Venetian Republic in 179 ...
Founded: 1428-1430 | Location: Venice, Italy

La Fenice

Teatro La Fenice is one of the most famous opera houses in Europe and landmark in the history of Italian theatre. Especially in the 19th century, La Fenice became the site of many famous operatic premieres at which the works of several of the four major bel canto era composers - Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi were performed. Its name reflects its role in permitting an opera company to 'rise from the ashes&a ...
Founded: 1774 | Location: Venice, Italy

Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, usually just called the Frari, is one of the greatest churches in Venice. The Franciscans were granted land to build a church in 1250, but the building was not completed until 1338. Work almost immediately began on its much larger replacement, the current church, which took over a century to build. The campanile, the second tallest in the city after that of San Marco, was c ...
Founded: 1338 | Location: Venice, Italy

San Giorgio Maggiore Church

San Giorgio Maggiore is a 16th-century Benedictine church on the island of the same name in Venice, designed by Andrea Palladio, and built between 1566 and 1610. The church is a basilica in the classical renaissance style and its brilliant white marble gleams above the blue water of the lagoon opposite the Piazzetta and forms the focal point of the view from every part of the Riva degli Schiavoni. The first church on the ...
Founded: 1565 | Location: Venice, Italy

Ca' Rezzonico Palace

Ca" Rezzonico site was previously occupied by two houses belonging to the Bon family, one of Venice"s patrician families. In 1649 the head of the family, Filippo Bon decided to build a large palazzo on the site. For this purpose he employed Baldassarre Longhena, the greatest proponent of Venetian Baroque. However, neither architect nor client was to see the completion of the Palazzo Bon: Longhena died in 1682, a ...
Founded: 1649 | Location: Venice, Italy

Scuola Grande di San Rocco

The Scuola Grande di San Rocco is noted for its collection of paintings by Tintoretto, generally agreed to include some of his finest work. In January 1515 the project of the building was entrusted to Bartolomeo Bon, although some authorities assign it to his son Pietro Bon. In 1524 his work was continued by Sante Lombardo, who, in turn, three years later was replaced by Antonio Scarpagnino. Following his death in 1549, ...
Founded: 1515 | Location: Venice, Italy

Santa Maria Formosa

Santa Maria Formosa was erected in 1492 under the design by Renaissance architect Mauro Codussi. It lies on the site of a former church dating from the 7th century, which, according to tradition, was one of the eight founded by San Magno, bishop of Oderzo. The name 'formosa' relates to an alleged appearance of the Holy Virgin disguised as a voluptuous woman. The plan is on the Latin cross, with a nave and two a ...
Founded: 1492 | Location: Venice, Italy

Santo Stefano Church

Santo Stefano is the third largest monastery church in Venice. Built by the Augustinian Hermits in the 13th century, it was re-structured a century later, and subsequent embellishments made it into one of the finest examples of Venetian Flamboyant Gothic architectures. On the fourteenth-century façade in brick, the superb marble portal is highly underlined, work by Bartolomeo Bon. The church was reconsecrated in 1374. ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Venice, Italy

Ca' Foscari Palace

Ca" Foscari, the palace of the Foscari family, is a Gothic building on the waterfront of the Grand Canal in Venice. In 1453 the Republic of Venice regained possession of the older palace and sold it to the Doge of the time, Francesco Foscari; he had the palace demolished and rebuilt in late Venetian gothic style. The building was chosen by the doge for its position on the Grand Canal. Foscari immediately set about r ...
Founded: 1453 | Location: Venice, Italy

Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo

The Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo is one of the largest churches in Venice with the status of minor basilica. After the 15th century the funeral services of all of Venice"s doges were held here, and twenty-five doges are buried in the church. The huge brick edifice was designed in the Italian Gothic style, and completed in the 1430s. It is the principal Dominican church of Venice, and as such was built to hold l ...
Founded: 1430s | Location: Venice, Italy

Santa Maria dei Miracoli Church

Santa Maria dei Miracoli, also known as the 'marble church', it is one of the best examples of the early Venetian Renaissance including colored marble, a false colonnade on the exterior walls (pilasters), and a semicircular pediment.  Built between 1481 and 1489 by Pietro Lombardo to house a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary. The plans for the church were expanded in 1484 to include the construction of a new ...
Founded: 1481-1489 | Location: Venice, Italy

Venetian Arsenal

The Venetian Arsenal is a complex of former shipyards and armories clustered together in the city of Venice. Owned by the state, the Arsenal was responsible for the bulk of the Venetian republic"s naval power during the centuries. It was one of the earliest large-scale industrial enterprises in history. Construction of the Arsenal began around 1104, during Venice"s republican era. It became the largest industri ...
Founded: 1104 | Location: Venice, Italy

Venetian Ghetto

The Venetian Ghetto was the area of Venice in which Jews were compelled to live under the Venetian Republic. The English word 'ghetto' is derived from the Jewish ghetto in Venice, originating from the Venetian ghèto and Italian ghetto. The Venetian Ghetto was instituted on 29 March 1516, though political restrictions on Jewish rights and residences existed before that date. In 1797 the French army of Italy, com ...
Founded: 1516 | Location: Venice, Italy

Murano Glass Museum

The Murano Glass Museum (Museo del Vetro) represents the the history of famous local Murano glass. The palace was the residence of the bishops of Torcello. It was originally built in the Gothic style as a patrician"s palace. The building became the residence of Bishop Marco Giustinian in 1659. He later bought it and donated it to the Torcello diocese. The Glass Museum was founded in 1861. The collection of the mus ...
Founded: 1861 | Location: Venice, Italy

I Gesuiti Church

The church of Santa Maria Assunta, known as I Gesuiti was built in 1715-1728 by Jesuits. Saint Ignatius of Loyola visited the city of Venice for the first time in 1523 to embark on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He returned to I Gesuiti in 1535 with a group of friends, who already called themselves the Society of Jesus (members of which are referred to as Jesuits - Gesuiti in Italian), and here they were ordained as priests. ...
Founded: 1715-1728 | Location: Venice, Italy

Torcello Cathedral

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is a basilica church on the island of Torcello. It is a notable example of Venetian-Byzantine architecture, one of the most ancient religious edifices in the Veneto, and containing the earliest mosaics in the area of Venice. According to an ancient inscription, it was founded by the exarch Isaac of Ravenna in 639, when Torcello was still a rival to the young nearby settlement at Venic ...
Founded: 639 AD | Location: Venice, Italy

Il Redentore

The Non Basilica del Santissimo Redentore, commonly known as Il Redentore, dominates the skyline of the island of Giudecca. It was built as a votive church in thanksgiving for deliverance from a major outbreak of the plague that decimated Venice between 1575 and 1576, in which some 46,000 people (25–30% of the population) died. The Senate of the Republic of Venice commissioned the architect Andrea Palladio to design t ...
Founded: 1577-1592 | Location: Venice, Italy

San Michele in Isola

San Michele in Isola church is located on the Isola di San Michele island which houses the cemetery of the city. The first church known to have been designed by the architect Mauro Codussi, this is a reconstruction of an older church, that was commissioned by the Camaldolese community on the island in 1469. The church is built entirely in salt-white Istrian stone which weathers to a pale gray. San Michele is the first e ...
Founded: 1469 | Location: Venice, Italy

San Pietro di Castello

The present Basilica of San Pietro di Castello building dates from the 16th century, but a church has stood on the site since at least the 7th century. From 1451 to 1807, it was the city's cathedral church, though hardly playing the usual dominant role of a cathedral, as it was overshadowed by the 'state church' of San Marco, and inconveniently located. During its history the church has undergone a number of alterations ...
Founded: 7th century | Location: Venice, Italy

San Lazzaro Monastery

San Lazzaro degli Armeni is a small island in the Venetian Lagoon. Settled in the 9th century, it was a leper colony during the Middle Ages. It was later abandoned. In 1717 San Lazzaro was ceded by the Republic of Venice to Mkhitar Sebastatsi (Mechitar) and his followers who established an Armenian Catholic monastery. The monastery currently contains a church with a campanile (bell tower), residential quarters, library, ...
Founded: 1717 | Location: Venice, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.