Venice, the island city of Saint Mark, is famous for being one of the most beautiful urban areas in the world, both for its location in the middle of the Venetian Lagoon and for its world-renowned architecture from the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Many people visit Venice without a firm plan and simply wander the narrow streets and canals in the knowledge that wherever you set foot in this city there is always something to see. Others, however, come with the aim of seeing specific sights such as the ones listed below.
The Grand Canal
Il Grand Canale is one of the largest routes into, out of and around the city by boat and is always bustling with water buses, water taxis and gondolas. It passes by all of the central areas of Venice and out into the lagoon. If you take a tour along the Grand Canal you get a good sense of some of the most impressive architecture venice has to offer. Here you can find the fondaco houses, built by wealthy merchants both to live in and to house their wares these ornate buildings were meant to impress as well as to provide fortification and many are flanked by defensive towers. There are also many of the famous palazzos lining this river including Palazzo Labia and Palazzo Grassi.
Piazza San Marco
Literally translated as St Mark’s Square this is the largest and most important piazza in venice. The centre piece of the Piazza is Saint Mark’s Basilica (described in more detail below) but it is worth visiting in and of itself, whether you have time for the Basilica or not. The square is famous for its grand architecture, much of it constructed at a time when the Republic of Venice was at the height of its powers. Other famous buildings in the square include the Clock Tower and the Campanile. Expect to find this area buzzing with tourists and the flocks of pigeons they attract. Nevertheless, few visitors to Venice would dispute that this area is a must-see.
St Mark’s Basilica
This basilica is also known by the nickname Chiesa d’Oro (Golden Church) for the beauty of its design and the liberal use of gold and other expensive materials in its construction. If you have seen the basilica from Piazza San Marco and are tempted to go inside then you definitely should. The interior is famous for its detailed ceiling mosaics of gold and precious stones. The mosaics depict, in a sub-Byzantine style, many of the events in the history of salvation including the Pentecost. The central figure, however, is a large mosaic of Christ Pantocrator.
Lido di Venezia
The Venice Lido is a sandbar island off the coast of the main part of the City of Venice and which is well known for its gold course, hotels, private villas and for hosting the annual Venice Film Festival. The area is home to luxurious residences for 20,000 people with all of the charm of the main city of Venice but slightly less of the noise. Today, many of the VIP’s who choose to stay in Venice will stay on the Lido.
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