Recommended tours in Venice - What to see in Venice








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What to see in Venice                                           (Back to Venice main information page)

A visit to Venice can last a few hours or many months; it all depends on what you want to do here. It's also possible to take tours to Venice that dwell more on the surrounding area, since the actual city is not that large.

If you are only planning a short trip, the Basilica di San Marco at the heart of the city is a must see. There is little else that illustrates the relationship between Venice and Byzantium so perfectly. The central plan of the basilica is a Greek cross with five large domes, one of which is at the extremity of the cross, and one at the crossing of the transept. The main fa?de looks out over the Piazza, with four portals that lead into the body of the church. There were originally five portals, but one, facing towards the Piazzetta, has been transformed into a large window.

Immediately next to the church, and in perfect harmony with its neighbour is the Palazzo del doge. Built as a simple castle, this has evolved into a symbol of Italian architecture and engineering from the proto-modern period. It is home to art works of exceptional importance, but unfortunately has also lost many pieces to fire at different times.

On the other side of the Piazzetta is the National Marciana Library, which contains treasures of Renaissance wisdom that emerged in Venice when the city was relatively free of censorship. Many texts are marked as published in Argentina, but in reality they were the work of thousands of Venetian printers, who produced them in secret. In the counter-reform period, the activity of these printers helped to maintain a situation of free communication between different groups.

The Correr Museum, which is part of the circuit of city museums, is also in Piazza San Marco. This museum is dedicated to the history and culture of the city, but also has other exhibits. Under the Procuratie, and above the historic Florian caf? is the Archeological Museum. Art lovers shouldn't miss the Gallerie dell'Accademia, by the bridge of the same name, which houses some treasures of Venetian painting dating from the height of its splendour, in the 16th century.

Slightly off the traditional tourist route are sites belonging to ethnic and religious minorities. The secular tolerance of the Republic allowed the persecuted a place to live peacefully in Venice. The Island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni is the centre of Armenian Diaspora culture, and there is the Moorat Raphael Palace, near San Sebastian. Venice can also boast the first ghetto in history. The Ghetto' is a Venetian word, derived from getto', referring to the cast of foundries originally in the area, who moved away for security reasons. The word getto' became ghetto' because the Jews from Germany had difficulty pronouncing the g'. The synagogues and museum can be visited here. The Greek community meets right behind San Marco, in the San Giorgio dei Greci church, which is adjacent to the museum of Byzantine Icons.

The Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni was started in the secular tradition of the city by the Dalmati, who defended it strenuously until the fall of the Republic. It now holds the Carpaccio cycle, which is of exceptional importance. In the Fondaco dei Tedeschi at the foot of the Rialto Bridge you will find the Post Office, while the National History Museum is located in the Fondaco dei Turchi.

Don't miss out on a visit to the islands, which are an integral part of the city's history. Torcello was one of the first to be settled; it was then abandoned as it became unhealthy. There is also Murano, home of blown glass, and Burano, an island of colour and lace. Venice is not just a city of stone, if you hire a boat (although you need to be very specific about the boat you want in a city surrounded by water!!) you can cruise through areas of nature for hours in the northern lagoon near Burano. Sights to see include San Franceso del Deserto and the valleys. Travelling southwards, you will come across Chioggia and the lagoon of Cason dei sette morti (the lagoon of the seven dead). Enjoy oases of fauna, archaeological areas, and hidden islands&

Once back on terra firma, you can visit Brenta and its river, or take in its beautiful villas. From Malcontenta up to Vicenza and Rotonda, Padovan architectural influences are visible. Pop into Padova if you want and visit the Specola observatory, which belonged to Galileo, who worked for Venice as a maths scholar.

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