Top historic sites in 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 Patriarch of Venice ...
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. Upo ...
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

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 rebuil ...
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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.