Venice never quite seems real, but rather an ornate film set suspended on the water.
Welcome to Venice, Italy, the city built on water. Travel the canals, walk the streets, ride boats, cross bridges and plan your own adventure in one of the world’s most unique cities.
See how the city has changed over the centuries as you walk through major moments in Venetian history.
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The historical residence of the Doge of Venice began construction in 1340, and was extended to overlook the Piazzetta of St. Mark’s Square in 1424. The palace includes living quarters, rooms for business and the old prison. Eventually the prison was moved out of the palace, but the two remained connected via the Bridge of Sighs.
Although this theatre was completed in 1792, it has burnt down and been rebuilt so many times it earned the name “The Phoenix Theatre” for its ability to rise from the ashes. Many notable operas had their world premiere here, including La traviata and La bohème.
The Rialto Bridge is the oldest bridge in Venice, and was the first structure to span the Grand Canal. Although the current stone bridge was completed in 1591, the first bridge on this site dates back to 1181.
With its memorable brick facade and towering campanile, the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari is known for housing masterpieces of the Renaissance. It is also the final resting place of famous 16th-century Venetian painter Titian.
Dating back to the Republic of Venice, this complex of shipyards and armories was a massive undertaking for its time. The military and trading vessels constructed here are responsible for centuries of Venetian wealth and power.
Arguably the most famous site in Venice, Piazza San Marco has long been the city’s social hub. People have gathered here since the 9th century when the first church was built on this spot, and locals and tourists still visit the Piazza to enjoy a coffee and and the view of St. Mark’s Basilica, the Campanile and the Doge’s Palace.
Built in 1602, this enclosed white limestone bridge was used to transport prisoners from the interrogation rooms inside the Doge’s Palace to their cells. Prisoners were known to sigh as they glimpsed their last view of Venice through the bridge’s windows, which is how this site got its melancholy name.
Located on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, this famous church sits across the canal from St. Mark’s Square. This site was occupied by the Romans and then home to a 10th-century Benedictine monastery before the construction of the Italian Baroque church that stands today.
How do you get around a city with no cars? Check out different modes of transportation in the Venitian archipelago.
See Venice through the eyes of artists by exploring locations that inspired famous works of art, available through the Google Cultural Institute.
Military history buff? Explore the Venetian Arsenal, a series of shipyards and armories that was the center of Italy’s naval power for centuries.
Off the beaten path, Taverna Del Campiello Remer sits on the edge of the Grand Canal. Sing along with the live music as you feast on delicious prosciutto and melon.
Looking for something a little more contemporary? Learn about Italian futurists and American modernists at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
Sit inside the ornately decorated rooms of Caffé Florian, one of the oldest cafes in Europe, or sip your cappuccino outside and enjoy the sights of St. Mark’s Square.
Visit the Gallerie dell’Accademia, site of one of Venice’s oldest scuole grande which now houses a collection of Venetian art through the ages.
Take a stroll across the Rialto Bridge, the oldest and perhaps most iconic bridge spanning the Grand Canal.
Visit the Bridge of Sighs, one of the most romantic spots in Venice. Legend has it that kissing in a gondola under the bridge leads to eternal love.
The gelato at La Boutique del Gelato is considered the some of the best in Europe. Order a cone to share with your sweetheart.
Fall in love at Teatro La Fenice, one of Europe’s most well-renowned and ornately decorated theatres.