Although it is unlikely that you will just show up in Venice, without planning your trip beforehand, very often you will still have only a few hours available to visit it. Based on 10 to 20 top sights suggested by different internet pages, and on their position on the map, I have created an itinerary that could save you some time and deprive you of foot injuries. Follow it and enjoy your stay, without being afraid that you will miss some of the most important things to see there.
1. IL Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs)
2. La Piazza di San Marco (St.Mark’s Square)
3. Lе Colonne di San Marco e San Teodoro (Saint Mark and Saint Theodore Column)
4. La Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark's Basilica)
5. Il Campanile di San Marco (St. Mark's Campanile)
6. La Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (The National Library of St Mark's)
7. La Torre dell'Orologio (St Mark's Clocktower)
8. La Chiesa di San Salvador (The Church of St.Salvador)
9. La Chiesa di San Bartolomeo (The Church of San Bartolomeo di Rialto)
10. Il Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)
11. La Chiesa di San Giacomo di Rialto (St. James Church)
12. Il Canal Grande (The Grand Canal)
13. La Chiesa di Santo Stefano (The Church of Santo Stefano)
14. Il Ponte dell'Accademia (The Accademia Bridge)
15. La Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (The Basilica of Saint Mary of Health)
16. La Punta della Dogana (The Sea Customs House)
17. L’Arsenale di Venezia (The Venetian Arsenal)
I suggest you begin your visit with the famous Bridge of Sighs (Il Ponte dei Sospiri), since it can be easily missed, coming to St. Mark’s Square. It is actually a part of Dodge's Palace, but on the opposite side of the square.
The bridge connects the courtroom in the Doge’s Palace to the Prison and its name refers to the prisoners' sighs at their final view of beautiful Venice on their way to be executed. After struggling for some time to take a photo of it, you can immerse yourself into the immense beauty of St. Mark’s Square (La Piazza di San Marco).
The square is always full of people and pigeons, and whether it is sunbathing or completely flooded, it will provide you with an unforgettable atmosphere. All you have to do is to turn around and make beautiful photos of all those marvelous structures around you: The Columns of Saint Mark and Saint Theodore (Le Colonne di San Marco and San Teodoro), The Doge's Palace (Il Palazzo Ducale). During the prosperous centuries of the Venetian Republic, the Palace was not only the residence of the doges, rulers of the city, but also the city’s center of power and administration.
St. Mark's Basilica (La Basilica di San Marco) from the 9th century, with its unique mixture of Byzantine and Gothic architecture and Il Campanile, 98.6m (323 feet) high bell tower, are Venice’s most recognizable landmarks. The original tower collapsed in 1902, and the current one is an early twentieth century reconstruction.
There are two other amazing Renaissance buildings here: The National Library of St Mark's (La Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana) and St Mark's Clock Tower (La Torre dell'Orologio), from the last decade of the 15th century, on the north side of the Piazza San Marco, at the entrance to the Merceria, showing off the wealth and glory of Venice. Its two lower floors make a monumental archway into the main street of the city, the Merceria, which connects the political and religious center (the Piazza) with the commercial and financial center (Rialto Bridge).
Although you can easily start ignoring the Venetian churches, simply because there are so many of them, La Chiesa di San Salvador, on your way to the Rialto is definitely worth visiting, as well as The Church of San Bartolomeo di Rialto (La Chiesa di San Bartolomeo).
Il Ponte di Rialto is a must see in Venice. Walk over it and enjoy the shops, stalls, restaurants, and a wonderful view of the Grand Canal.
On the other side of the Canal, next to Rialto market there is St. James Church (La Chiesa di San Giacomo di Rialto), the oldest church in Venice, supposedly consecrated in the year 421. It has an enormous clock with one hand, divided into 24 hours.
Cross the bridge again and follow the Grand Canal. You will find more than 170 buildings on its banks, mostly from the 13th to the 18th century, demonstrating the wealth of the noble Venetian families. Among them, the most beautiful are: Palazzi Barbaro, Ca' Rezzonico, Ca' d'Oro, Palazzo Dario, Ca' Foscari, Palazzo Barbarigo and Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, housing the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
Going towards Il Ponte dell'Accademia, you will find The Church of Santo Stefano, the third largest monastery church in Venice located on the square of the same name.
The Accademia Bridge (Ponte dell'Accademia), a large, wooden bridge, quite strange for a city full of stone architecture, crosses the Grand Canal at its lower, southern end, offering another amazing view of the Grand Canal and of the dome of The Basilica of Saint Mary of Health (La Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute).
This amazing white stone church with its massive dome was built in honor of the Virgin Mary for saving the city from a plague that killed one third of its population and contains some impressive paintings of Titian.
At the very end of the island, there is The Sea Customs House (La Punta della Dogana). For centuries, the prosperous Republic of Venice was the meeting place of East and West. You can clearly imagine the ships carrying goods from the Far East and stopping here to declare their cargo and to pay the taxes. On the top of the current building's tower, there is a sculpture of two Atlases holding up a bronze globe with Fortuna on it.
If you still have some time left, take the vaporetto and go to see a bit hidden but magical spot The Venetian Arsenal (Arsenale di Venezia) with its beautiful façade, appropriate for the imposing naval station.
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