ATTRACTIONS & MONUMENTS
Basilica del Redentore
Based on a project by the famous architect
Andrea Palladio, the Basilica was built in 1577 on the island of Giudecca. It contains works by Tintoretto, Veronese and other important Venetian artists. It was built to celebrate the deliverance from the Black Death, which killed one third of the population. To commemorate the end of the plague, a solemn festival is still held at the church on the third Sunday of July. www.chorusvenezia. org. Campo Redentore (Giudecca). T: 041 2750462. Vaporetto line 41 and 2 (Redentore stop). Map E6
Basilica di San Marco
This is the most important Catholic church in the city, and one of the most important monuments in Italy. The original church dates back to before the year 1000, while its famous polychrome façade, embellished with mosaics and bas-reliefs, is a 13th century addition. The famous winged lion, a symbol of the city and of the ancient ‘Venetian Republic' is depicted on its pediment. Inside, a triumphant array of domes and transepts, mosaics and gold, marble and numerous other treasures. You might have to queue for a time to get inside, but your wait will be well worthwhile. Although admission is free, you will have to pay to see several specific sights. In order not to miss your visit, be sure to inform yourself about the opening hours, as they are often subject to change. Open Mon-Sat 9.30am4pm; Sun (and Public Holidays) 2pm-4pm. www. basilicasanmarco.it. San Marco, 328. T: 041 2708311. Vaporetto lines 1, 2 (San Marco stop). Map F4
Campanile di San Marco (Bell Tower)
This 98.6 metre bell tower is affectionately known to the Venetians as ‘el paron de casa' (the master of the house) because it dominates the city, observing everything that lies below it. Resting lightly on the exquisite Loggetta del Sansovino, it has a particularly recognizable shape and a rich history. The original medieval bell tower was modified several times, and rebuilt entirely when it unexpectedly collapsed in 1902. It is worth going up to the tower, to enjoy a breathtaking view over the city. Although admission is not free, it is often included in joint tickets. Opening times are subject to change. T: 041 5225205. Vaporetto lines 1,2 (San Marco stop). Map F4
Canal Grande (Grand Canal)
Although it is known as ‘the most beautiful street in the world', the Canal 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 Serenissima. For centuries, the Canal has witnessed lavish parties and workshop events, religious processions, capital executions, historical regattas and epidemics. Those visiting Venice should dedicate a few hours to a cruise on the Canal, not only for the pleasure of this experience, but because it offers several of the best panoramic views of Venetian palaces.
It is is almost impossible to list all of them, but for more information you can visit the www. canalgrandevenezia.it website. For excursions and boat cruises visit www.canalgrande.it, or ask your concierge.
Chiesa and Scuola Grande di San Rocco
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. The interiors are filled with numerous treasures, including an impressive number of works by Tintoretto as well those by Tiepolo and Giorgione. Opening hours subject to change www. scuolagrandesanrocco.org. San Polo, 3052 (Campo San Rocco). T: 041 5234864. Vaporetto line 2 (San Tomà stop). Map D4
Ghetto di Venezia
Although documentation chronicles the presence of a Jewish community in Venice from before the year 1000, it was only during the 6th century, due to political unrest in Europe and a significant increase in non-Christian immigrants that, 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'. Thus Jews were forced to move to this, then, remote northwestern corner of Venice, to an abandoned site of a 14th-century foundry (‘ghetto' is old Venetian dialect for "foundry," a word that would soon be used throughout Europe and the world to depict an area where isolated minority groups lived. The Venetian Ghetto nevertheless became a thriving, vibrant district. In 1797, when Napoleon rolled into town, the ghetto was disbanded as an institution, and Jews were free to move elsewhere. Today it is still the center of Venice's ever-diminishing community of Jewish families. Vaporetto lines 4.1, 4.2, 5.1 (Ponte Guglie stop). Map D2
Palazzo Ca’ Vendramin Calergi (Casinò di Venezia)
Overlooking the Grand Canal, this building houses the oldest casino in the world. An age-old destination, for aristocratic travelers from both
East and West, Venice was the first city in the world to open a gaming house way back in 1683. Today its old-world ambience continues to play host to several of the world's most classical games. The casino is open to everyone aged 18 and over and proper attire is required. www.casinovenezia.it. Cannaregio, 2040 (Calle Colombina). Vaporetto lines 1, 2 (San Marcuola stop). Map E3
Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square)
Known throughout the world, this square is the heart of Venice and its most symbolic landmark. It consists of a central, trapezoid-shaped unit integrated with other areas. Measuring 170 metres in length, it faces directly onto the water and is surrounded by several magnificent stately buildings. Its incalculable scenic beauty makes it one of the most widelyphotographed places in the world. The best thing to do here is to look around and exult, but don't forget that the square has a number of specific landmark sites, whose interiors can also be visited: the Basilica of San Marco (see listing), the Bell Tower (see listing), Palazzo Ducale (see Museums listings), the Clock Tower (see listing) and some 18th century cafés, the Florian and the Quadri, to mention the best-known... Vaporetto lines, 1, 2 (San Marco stop). Map F4
Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs)
The Bridge of Sighs 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. The ‘sighs' from which its name derives are not those of lovers, but those of condemned prisoners, emitted as they were led down to the cells. It can be accessed on a visit to the Palazzo Ducale. Open daily 8.30am- 7pm. www. palazzoducale.visitmuve.it. San Marco, 31024 (piazza San Marco). T:041 2715911. Vaporetto lines 1,2, (San Marco stop). Map F4
Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)
This is the oldest and most beautiful 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. Originally built during medieval times as a pontoon bridge at the canal's narrowest point to facilitate access to the popular Rialto Market, it is still a hub of commerce and is lined on both sides by shops. Unfortunately, it is not accessible to everyone; between upward and downward slopes, it includes as many as 120 steps. San Polo, 30125 (access from Ruga dei Oresi or from Salizada Pio X). Vaporetto linea 1,2 (Rialto stop). Map F4
San Giorgio Maggiore
Boasting a monastery and an adjoining museum (see Museum listings), the church of San Giorgio Maggiore sits on the little island of San Giorgio Maggiore across from St. Mark's square. One of the masterpieces of Andrea Palladio, the church, and the entire complex, which holds a number of marvelous surprises including a maze, is worth visiting. This small island, that is a part of the panorama that can be enjoyed from St. Mark's square, is separated from the Giudecca by the lagoon island of La Grazia. Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore. T: 041 5227827. Vaporetto line 2 (San Giorgio stop). Map G5
Santa Maria della Salute (Church of the Virgin Mary of Good Health)
Generally referred to as “La Salute,” this crown jewel of 17th-century baroque architecture proudly stands at a commercially and aesthetically important point, almost directly opposite the Piazza San Marco, where the Grand Canal empties into the lagoon. Designed by Longhena, whose work was influenced by Palladio, it was constructed to honor the Virgin Mary for delivering Venice from the plague of 1630. On 21 November each year, a popular religious celebration, marking the official end of the Black Death, is held here. The church is also famous for its organ concerts. Open daily 9am-12noon/3pm5.30pm. www.basilicasalutevenezia.it. Fondamenta Salute, 30123. T: 041 2743911. Vaporetto line 1 (Salute stop). Map E5
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
Known by the Venetians simply as ‘i Frari', this landmark features 17 monumental altars and is the largest church in the city. This medieval church in Gothic-Venetian style, houses, in addition to two paintings by Titian, the tombs and funerary monuments of numerous famous people, including Titian, Monteverdi and Canova. chorusvenezia.org. Campo dei Frari. T: 041 2750462. Vaporetto line 1, 2, N (San Tomà stop). Map D4
Santi Giovanni e Paolo
One of the city's most important examples of medieval architecture, Santi Giovanni e Paolo is considered the Pantheon of Venice because all the Venetian doges, starting from the 13th century, are buried here, together with numerous other notable personages. www.basilicasantigiovanniepaolo.it. Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo (Please note: this site might be marked in Venetian dialect
as ‘san ZaniPolo' on the city's maps).
T: 041 5235913. Vaporetto line 5.1 (Fondamente Nove stop, Ospedale Civile stop). Map F3
Scala Contarini del Bovolo
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. The architectural beauty of the stairwell, combined with the view that can be enjoyed on reaching the top, is well worth a visit. Open Tues-Sun: 10am1.30pm/2pm-6pm. www.scalacontarinidelbovolo. com. c/o Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo. San Marco, 4299 (Campo Manin, Rio San Luca). T: 041 3096605. Vaporetto line 1 or 2 (San Marco Vallaresso stop).
Teatro La Fenice
Twice destroyed by fire and twice restored to its former splendour (the last time was between 1996 and 2003), for centuries it has been Venice's principal stage for world-class opera, music, theater, and ballet. However, its high point came in the 19th century when it hosted the ‘premieres' of operas by Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi. Not only strongly associated with Venice's cultural heritage, it is also a stunning feat of architecture. teatrolafenice. it. Ticket office T: 041 2424. San Marco, 1965 (Campo San Fantin). Vaporetto line 1 (San Marco-Vallaresso stop). Map E4
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. Murano is famous throughout the world for its hand-blown glass (artisanal workshops still display glassmakers at work). Torcello, birthplace of the lagoon, once a thriving town with 8,000 inhabitants, is today a semirural island with only 17 permanent residents and two medieval churches that speak poignantly of past glories, and Burano, one of the most photographed sights in the world, thanks to colourful houses reflected in its canals. Burano is also famous for its artisanal lace work and a particular kind of biscuit, which also resembles lace. Find out more and buy tickets for your trip to these magical destinations. Visitors love these islands, and there may be a risk of not finding a seat on the boat. See Map page 62.