The words that were spoken by Indiana Jones when he crawled out of the sewer in Italy’s lagoon city accurately describe the sentiment you get when you visit this remarkable place.
The city was constructed on more than 100 small islands and is the capital of the Veneto region in northeastern Italy.
The most famous buildings in Venice are a reflection of the city’s rich past, especially as the capital of the Republic of Venice for over a millennium between 697 to 1797.
Is this “the most beautiful city ever built by man?”
Let’s take a closer look at some of Venice’s most stunning buildings.
1. Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s Palace is the most important of all the famous buildings in Venice. It served as the political heart of the Republic of Venice for multiple centuries.
This amazing Gothic building in the Venetian Gothic style was constructed in the 14th century and served as the main residence of the Doge, the Republic’s de facto ruler.
The building was transformed into a museum in 1923 and is one of the 11 museums managed by a local organization called the “Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.”
Official website: Doge’s Palace
2. Rialto Bridge
It’s the oldest of the 4 bridges that span the Grand Canal, the city’s main water-traffic corridor. It was completed between 1588 and 1591, replacing several bridges in this location since the 12th century.
The pontoon bridge that was located here in the 1170s was an important structure for the Rialto market that was located nearby. Today, it’s a picturesque tourist attraction in the city that is lined with shops.
3. Saint Mark’s Basilica
Saint Mark’s Basilica is officially known as the “Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark” and dominates Saint Mark’s Square, the most famous square in the city.
It has been an important religious building for many centuries and is attached to the DOge’s Palace which is situated just south of the building.
Official website: Basilica San Marco
4. Saint Mark’s Campanile
Saint Mark’s Campanile is the free-standing bell tower of Saint Mark’s Basilica. It is located just west of it in the central part of Saint Mark’s Square near the extension called “Little Saint Mark’s Square.”
It’s the tallest structure in Venice at a height of 98.6 meters (323 feet) and dominates the city’s skyline. It also dwarfs the nearby Doge”s Palace and Saint Mark’s Basilica, making these huge structures appear smaller than they are.
The current tower isn’t the first in this location because the original one collapsed in 1902. This tower is a replica of this original one and was completed in 1912.
5. Scuola Grande di San Rocco
The Scuola Grande di San Rocco is a building in Venice that served as the seat of a confraternity that was established in 1478.
It was named in honor of San Rocco, a saint who has traditionally been praised as a protector against the plague (which has raged on countless occasions in this lagoon city).
While the building itself is magnificent, the interior is simply astounding. It features several of the best paintings by Tintoretto. These were commissioned by the rich members of the confraternity in the 16th century.
Official website: Scuola Grande di San Rocco
6. Venetian Arsenal
The Venetian Arsenal is a large complex of shipyards and armories. The armory is located in the eastern part of the city and was founded in the year 1104.
It has played an important role in the history of the Republic of Venice because the naval power of the republic was concentrated in this area of the city.
Just like modern-day ports, it operated on an industrial scale. This is why it’s sometimes referred to as “one of the earliest large-scale industrial enterprises in history.”
7. Teatro La Fenice
Teatro La Fenice is the main opera house in the city of Venice. It has been one of the most important opera houses in Europe since the 18th century.
The current opera house is the fourth to be constructed in Venice. That’s because the other 3 versions of La Fenice were lost to fire, once in 1774, in 136, and a fairly recent fire caused by an arsonist in 1996.
The new version of the opera house was constructed shortly after and opened its doors in 2004. The interior is magnificent but only has a seating of 1126 seats.
Official website: Teatro La Fenice
8. Santa Maria della Salute
Santa Maria della Salute is commonly referred to as “La Salute” and is another magnificent Roman Catholic church in Venice. It’s located at Punta della Dogana in the southern part of the city.
The construction of this amazing Baroque building started in 1631 after a devastating plague that killed nearly one-third of the population in the city.
It was completed in 1681 and its fabulous dome has dominated the city’s skyline ever since. It formed the inspiration of multiple artists as the church has been painted by Canaletto, J. M. W. Turner, and John Singer Sargent.
9. Gallerie dell’Accademia
The Gallerie dell’Accademia is an art gallery located on the south bank of the Grand Canal, not too far west of the Santa Maria della Salute church.
It was established in the year 1750 and was originally referred to as the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, a reference to the art academy of Venice to which it belonged.
The art gallery is housed in a building known as the “Scuola della Carità” and houses multiple masterpieces by Old Masters, including multiple works by the three Venetian masters Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto.
Official website: Gallerie dell’Accademia
10. Church of San Giorgio Maggiore
The Church of San Giorgio Maggiore is located on an island with the same name that is situated in the southern part of the city. Both the Doge’s Palace and the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute are located just a few hundred meters to the west and northeast.
The Renaissance building was designed by one of the most renowned Renaissance architects of the 16th century, Andrea Palladio (1508-1580).
He never saw the white marble church finished because it was completed between 1566 and 1608. It’s another iconic building in Venice that was painted by several artists, including Claude Monet who completed “San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk” between 1908 and 1912.
The interior of the church houses several important works of art, including The Last Supper by Tintoretto.