VENICE — San Marco Area

This is arguably the most well known and visited area in Venice. The area is centred in St Mark’s Square named after the grand basilica of the same name and is a huge open space full of pigeons and tourists.

The sights found here are:
Basilica di San Marco
Campanile
Chiesa di San Moisè
Chiesa di Santa Maria del Giglio
Chiesa di Santo Stefano
Libreria Nazionale Marciana
Museo Correr
Museo della Musica
Palazzo Ducale
Palazzo Franchetti
Ponte dell’Accademia
Teatro la Fenice
Torre dell’Orologio

Basilica di San Marco

Basilica di San Marco
The facade and interior of St Mark’s Basilica is magnificent. Over the centuries the basilica has been richly decorated with the precious objects and works of art brought into Venice from all over the world. The basilica is a unique blend of architectural styles including Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance. Originally built in 828 it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times but was only made Venice&rsquos cathedral in 1807. The most notable decorations of the basilica are the magnificent mosaics dating from the 12th and 13th centuries. The church’s masterpiece is the superb altarpiece known as Palo d’Oro (Golden Altarpiece) and contains precious gems and embalmed panels. You will find this behind the main altar with its green marble canopy on alabaster columns. Upstairs is a gallery from which you can view the church and the mosaics from another angle. Also up here is the Loggia dei Cavalli with its wonderful copies of four gilded bronze horses. The originals can be found inside. The main part of the basilica is free but there are sections where you will need to pay.
For more information about prices and opening times visit the website at http://www.basilicasanmarco.it/eng/index.bsm

Traveller's Tip

If you are wearing inappropriate clothing the guards at the door won’t let you in. Also the basilica is only open on Sundays to those wishing to attend Mass.
Campanile

Campanile
This 99-metre tall guard tower stands separate from the church. The tower you see today is not the original from the 10th century but was rebuilt in 1902 after it collapsed. Take a lift to the top for a great view.

Chiesa di San Moisè
The facade of this church has lots of stone decorations and inside you will find works of art including Tintoretto’s La Lavanda dei Piedi (The Washing of the Feet) and La Cena (The Supper) by Palma il Giovane.

Chiesa di Santa Maria del Giglio

Chiesa di Santa Maria del Giglio
This church also known as Santa Maria Zobenigo is small but is full of a wide variety of paintings. Notable amongst these is Paul Ruben’s Madonna col Bambino e San Giovanni (Madonna and Child with St John) because it is his only work found in Venice.

Chiesa di Santo Stefano

Chiesa di Santo Stefano
Built originally in the 13th century this church has been restored several times. Inside it has several notable features including a wonderful timber ceiling, the tomb of the last commander in chief of the Republic and the Sepulchral monument to Bartolomeo D’Alviano. Be sure to look in the vestry for paintings by Tintoretto such as Ultima Cena (Last Supper), Lavanda dei Piedi (Washing of the Feet) and Orazione nell’Orto (Agony in the Garden). This church is quite magnificently ornate and it is easy to get lost in its vast spaces. The bell tower is one of the most renowned in Venice.

Libreria Nazionale Marciana


Libreria Nazionale Marciana
This stunning building built between 1537 and 1560 extends from St Mark’s Square around the corner on the waterfront into what was once the Republic’s mint (La Zecca). The reading rooms of the Library are now found in this building. The Library conserves many valuable manuscripts including the Map of the World by Fra Mauro. There are also some wonderful paintings by Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese.
For more information visit the website at http://marciana.venezia.sbn.it

Museo Correr
It was originally designed as a residence for Napoleon, but it wasn’t finished until the middle of the 19th century when Venice was under the rule of Austria. It then became the official residence of the Hapsburg Court during its frequent visits to Venice and after became the Venetian residence of the King of Italy. It was designed by the architects Giovanni Antonio Antolini, Giuseppe Soli and Lorenzo Santi. The building now houses the Museo Correr which is dedicated to the art and history of Venice. Inside there is a collection of works by Canova and 19th century paintings. There are rooms dedicated to Venetian Civilisation with coins, flags,maps and instruments and weapons from bygone days.
You can walk straight into the Museo Archeologico from the Museo Correr. Here you will find mostly Greek and Roman statues and a huge collection of coins and ceramics. There are also a few rooms dedicated to ancient Egyptian and Assyro-Babylonian objects.
For more information on Museo Correr visit the website at http://www.museiciviciveneziani.it/frame.asp?musid=9&sezione=musei and for information on the Museo Archeologico visit the website at http://www.polomuseale.venezia.beniculturali.it/index.php?it/6/museo-archeologico-nazionale

Museo della Musica
This is a small museum housed in a former church. It contains a collection of rare and unusual 17th and 18th century instruments. There is a lot of information on the life of Antonio Vivaldi.

Palazzo Ducale

Palazzo Ducale (The Doge’s Palace)
This is quite magnificently ornate and it is easy to get lost in its vast spaces. It is more than a palace as it has been the symbol of Venice’s political life and public administration for hundreds of years. The building has been continually evolving since 1340 but the foundations date back to the early Middle Ages. The building has been destroyed many times, the most notable being the fire of 1106. It was rebuilt by Barbarossa in 1177 and changed over time by the Dogi residing here. The building comprises the apartments of the doge, the government quarters and the Palace of Justice. There are many areas to discover in the palace including the Museo dell’Opera where you will see what is left of the medieval facade and sculptures dating from the 14th century and 15th centuries. There is the magnificent courtyard that you pass through before heading to the Doge’s apartments. Take time to walk alongside the loggias and admire the various angles of the palace. Do not forget the collection of weapons and armaments in the Armoury. Also worth seeing are the Institutional Chambers and the prisons found under the palace which housed the famous Casanova. For further information and to book tickets online visit the website at http://www.museiciviciveneziani.it/frame.asp?musid=8&sezione=musei

Traveller's Tip

Highly recommended is the ‘The Secret Itineraries’ tour of the Palazzo Ducale. You can book tickets online.
Palazzo Franchetti

Palazzo Franchetti
This palace is quite near the Ponte dell’Accademia and is quite spectacular when viewed from the Grand Canal. It was built in 1565 but was modernised in the 19th century by its various owners. Since 2004 it has been open to the public and houses the Venice Institute of the Sciences, Letters and Arts which frequently shows exhibitions.
For more information visit the website at http://www.istitutoveneto.it/roomsfacilities/index.htm

Ponte dell’Accademia

Ponte dell’Accademia
This is one of only four bridges to span the Grand Canal. It was constructed in 1854 as a steel bridge but was replaced by a wooden bridge in the 1930’s.

Teatro la Fenice: This is one of Europe’s most famous opera houses and houses many famous premieres. Since its opening it has had to be built twice due to fires.
For more information visit the website at http://www.teatrolafenice.it/

Torre dell’Orologio

Torre dell’Orologio (The Clock Tower)
The blue enamel and gold-leaf clock face shows the position of the sun, the lunar phases, the signs of the zodiac as well as telling the time. Gian Carlo Raineri, a clockmaker was commissioned to build it in 1493.

There are many palaces in this district apart from those already described and they include: Palazzo Contarini-Fasan; Palazzo Contarini dal Bovolo; Palazzo Farsetti; Palazzo Fortuny (Pesaro degli Orfei); Palazzo Giustinian Lolinmdash; Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi; Palazzo Grassi; Palazzo Loredan; Palazzo Pisani; Palazzo Pisani-Gritti and Palazzo Rota.