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10 Most Interesting Things to See in Venice

 

Ah, Venice! Forget the ordinary; this is a city where gondolas replace cars and where history, culture, and an indomitable spirit of romance coalesce into an experience unlike any other. 

With its winding canals, striking architecture, and captivating art scenes, Venice offers a feast for the senses, one that lures travelers from all corners of the globe. 

Yet, even amidst its celebrated landmarks, Venice harbors lesser-known gems worth your time.

In this article, we uncover the 10 most interesting things to see in Venice, perfectly curated for the intelligent and experienced traveler.

1. The Grand Canal: A Waterway Like No Other

 

The Unmistakable Heartbeat of Venice

As the main artery that weaves its way through the city, the Grand Canal is quintessentially Venice. Far from being a mere waterway, it’s a living tableau, teeming with history and modern-day culture.

Interesting Facts:

  • Length: Approximately 3.8 kilometers
  • Average Depth: About 5 meters
  • Number of Bridges: Four main ones, including the renowned Rialto Bridge

While most travelers opt for a gondola ride, consider the Vaporetto (water bus) for an alternative and comprehensive view of the Grand Canal. This will give you a unique perspective of Venice’s architectural timeline, from the Byzantine and Gothic façades to Renaissance and Baroque marvels.

2. St. Mark’s Basilica: A Symphony of Architecture and Spirituality

The Divine Marvel

No trip to Venice is complete without stepping inside St. Mark’s Basilica, a masterpiece of Italo-Byzantine architecture. Beyond its religious significance, the Basilica is a treasure trove of art and history. 

The interior is adorned with over 8,000 square meters of intricate mosaics, many made with 24-carat gold leaf.

Interesting Facts:

  • The Basilica houses the Pala d’Oro, an exquisite golden altar screen adorned with 1,927 gemstones.
  • The four bronze horses on the façade are replicas; the originals are inside to protect them from the elements.

Pro-tip

Arrive early or book a skip-the-line ticket to avoid the inevitable crowds, thereby enjoying the art and spirituality in relative solitude.

3. The Doge’s Palace: Power and Elegance Personified

The Epicenter of Venetian Politics and Society

The Doge’s Palace is another must-visit, particularly for history buffs. This architectural marvel was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the Venetian Republic.

Interesting Facts:

  • The palace houses the Sala del Maggior Consiglio, one of Europe’s largest rooms, which could accommodate up to 2,600 people.
  • The building connects to the infamous Bridge of Sighs, which led prisoners from the courtroom to their cells.

Walking through its labyrinthine rooms and grand halls, one can’t help but be struck by the sheer opulence and the intricate detailing of the ceilings, walls, and floors.

4. Bridge of Sighs: A Journey from Justice to Eternity

The Mysterious Passage

Though many view the Bridge of Sighs as a symbol of romance, it was originally anything but. Named for the sighs of prisoners who would get a last glimpse of Venice before their imprisonment or execution, this bridge offers an intriguing, if somber, narrative of Venice’s storied history.

Interesting Facts:

  • The bridge was built in 1600, making it one of the newer additions to Venice’s architectural portfolio.
  • Legend says that lovers will enjoy eternal love if they kiss on a gondola under the Bridge at sunset.

While you’re exploring the Doge’s Palace, don’t miss the Bridge of Sighs. It provides an interesting counterpoint to the splendor and opulence you’ll encounter in the palace itself.

5. Peggy Guggenheim Collection: A Modernist Haven in a Classical City

The Confluence of Old and New

Nestled on the Grand Canal, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection houses one of the most important collections of modern art in Italy. It’s an unusual but delightful break from the historical norm you’ll find in Venice.

Interesting Facts:

  • The museum features works by Picasso, Dalí, Kandinsky, and Pollock among others.
  • Peggy Guggenheim herself is buried in the garden, next to her beloved pet dogs.

Pro-tip

Don’t skip the museum’s terrace cafe. With a stunning view overlooking the Grand Canal, it’s the perfect spot for some mid-day relaxation.

6. Scuola Grande di San Rocco: Venice’s Artistic Gem

The Underrated Showstopper

The Scuola Grande di San Rocco is perhaps one of the most underrated spots in Venice, yet it is a treasure chest of Renaissance art. Tintoretto, a Venetian painter, covered almost every inch of the Scuola’s walls and ceilings with his works, turning the building into a kind of three-dimensional storybook.

Interesting Facts:

  • There are more than 60 Tintoretto works in the building.
  • The Scuola was established as a charitable society in 1478 and still functions as one today.

Pro-tip

Take along a small mirror. The ceilings are so ornate that your neck will thank you for the chance to see them without craning upwards!

Fantastic! Let’s complete our list with the final attractions that make Venice an irresistible destination for any seasoned traveler.


7. The Venetian Arsenal: A Maritime Marvel

The Birthplace of Venice’s Naval Power

While not a typical tourist haunt, the Venetian Arsenal is a splendid illustration of Venice’s maritime dominance. Once the largest shipyard in the world, it was a key factor in the rise of the Venetian Republic as a maritime power.

Interesting Facts:

  • The Arsenal could reportedly produce a ship a day at its peak.
  • The complex covers an area of about 45 hectares.

Though parts of it remain a naval base and are off-limits, a visit here provides intriguing insights into Venice’s naval history, including its role in the Crusades.

8. Cannaregio: The ‘Real Venice’

 

Where Venetians Live and Play

Away from the throngs of tourists, Cannaregio offers an authentic slice of Venetian life. With its bustling fish markets, charming cafes, and residential canals, it’s the perfect place for those looking to experience Venice as the locals do.

Interesting Facts:

  • Cannaregio is the most populated of Venice’s six historic districts.
  • It’s home to the Venetian Ghetto, the world’s first ghetto, which dates back to 1516.

Stroll through its quieter streets, and you may stumble upon artisans at work, kids playing along the canals, or a hidden garden.

9. Burano: The Island of Colors and Lace

 

A Picturesque Escape

An hour’s boat ride from Venice, Burano is renowned for its vibrant, multicolored houses and its centuries-old lace-making tradition. 

A photographer’s paradise, the island offers a tranquil respite from the hustle and bustle of the main city.

Interesting Facts:

  • Legend says that the houses were painted in bright colors to help fishermen find their way home in the fog.
  • Burano lace once adorned the clothing of European royalty.

10. Teatro La Fenice: The Phoenix of Opera Houses

From Ashes to Elegance

Teatro La Fenice has seen more drama offstage than on — having burned down and been rebuilt multiple times. Yet, each time it returns more glorious than before, living up to its name, “The Phoenix.”

Interesting Facts:

  • La Fenice has premiered many famous operas, including Verdi’s “Rigoletto” and “La Traviata.”
  • A “secret” apartment was discovered above the Apollo Hall during the 2003–2004 restoration. Its purpose remains a mystery.

A City Like No Other

Venice is not just a city; it’s an emotion, an ever-changing mosaic of history, art, and unparalleled beauty. 

Whether you’re an art connoisseur, a history aficionado, or simply a traveler with a penchant for the extraordinary, Venice has something to offer you.

From its world-famous landmarks like the Grand Canal and St. Mark’s Basilica to its hidden gems like the Scuola Grande di San Rocco and Cannaregio, Venice is a destination that defies the ordinary.

Isn’t it time you experienced this wonder for yourself? 

Take the leap and make Venice your next travel destination — you won’t regret it. With its perfect blend of past and present, of grandeur and intimacy, Venice is a living, breathing masterpiece waiting to be explored.

As the Italian proverb goes, “See Venice and die” — but we’d argue, see Venice and live fully, enriched by the irreplaceable allure of La Serenissima.

 

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