Things to see in Venice

Tourist offices

Palazzetto Carmagnani

Giardini Ex Reali, San Marco (Venice Pavilion), Venice, Italy
Tel: (041) 529 8711.
Opening Hours: Daily 0900-1900.
www.turismovenezia.it

Passes

The Venice Card (tel: (041) 2424; www.hellovenezia.com) is available in 12-hour, 48-hour and week-long packages. It offers free public transport, entry to museums and galleries and discounts on selected parking, excursions and shops. The card is available from the airport, railway stations, tourist information offices and online.

The Chorus Pass (telephone: (041) 275 0462; www.chorusvenezia.org) includes entry to 16 of Venice's churches, including the spectacular Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari and the church of Santa Maria Formosa. The pass is valid for one year and is available for purchase online, at the tourist office and from participating churches.

The Museum Pass (tel: (041) 4273 0892; www.vivaticket.it) allows entry to 10 civic museums, including the Doge's Palace. The ticket is valid for six months and allows a single admission to each museum.

Basilica dei Frari (Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari)

The glorious gothic Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, constructed around 1330, is primarily associated with the name of Titian, Venice's painter son who is buried here, alongside the city's celebrated sculptor, Antonio Canova. Titian made his reputation and crowned his early years by painting the huge altar piece, The Assumption of the Virgin, for the Franciscan brothers of the Frari in 1518. Titian also executed the painting over the Pesaro family altar in the north aisle. The inclusion of the flag and Turk in the painting alludes to Bishop Pesaro's victory over the Turks at Santa Maura. Titian's tomb, located in the south aisle, faces the large marble pyramid created for Canova, depicting St Mark's lion paying homage to the dead sculptor. Ironically, the design, executed by Canova's pupils, was based on Canova's own plans for a new monument to Titian.

Opening Times: Mon-Sat 0900-1800, Sun 1300-1800.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: Yes
Address: San Polo 3072, Venice, Italy
Telephone: (041) 272 8611.
Basilica di San Marco (St Mark's Basilica)

The golden Byzantine St Mark's Basilica was founded in the ninth century as a shrine for the relics of St Mark. Built on a plan of a Greek cross, its Eastern appearance is enhanced by golden mosaics, originally created by craftsmen from the Byzantine court at Ravenna. The interior houses many of Venice's greatest treasures, including the venerated icon of the Madonna Nicopeia. The golden screen behind the high altar - the crypt in which St Mark is supposed to be buried - is the Pala d'Oro, beautifully crafted with sapphires, emeralds and rubies and inset with enamels from Constantinople. Before leaving St Mark's, visitors should pause to admire the 12th-century pavement, a resplendent mosaic of glass and marble. It is possible to book online to avoid the long queues at www.venetoinside.com

Opening Times: Mon-Sat 0945-1700, Sun 1400-1700 (Apr-Oct); Mon-Sat 0945-1700, Sun 1400-1600 (Nov-Mar).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: Yes
Address: Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy
Telephone: (041) 270 8311.
Campanile di San Marco (Bell Tower)

The bell tower, which is located to one side of St Mark’s Square, is the tallest structure in Venice and offers a unique view of this fabulous city. At 318 ft (97m) high, visitors prepared to make the lengthy climb can look out over the rooftops of the city. In a strange twist, the view from the top can be good enough on a clear day to catch a glimpse of the distant dolomites, but doesn’t allow for a view of any of the canals. The tower collapsed in 1902 and was rebuilt exactly as before.

Opening Times: 0700-1545 (Nov-Apr) 0900-2100 (Jul-Sept).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: Yes
Address: Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy
Telephone: (041) 522 5205.
Galleria dell'Accademia

The most important art gallery, the Accademia, is still worth a visit. Housed in the former church of Santa Maria della Carita and the adjoining Scuola, the collection first opened in 1750. The small paintings in rooms 4 and 5 are some of the finest in the collection. Giorgione's Tempesta, depicting a naked mother and child sheltering under a stormy sky against the ruins of an ancient city, is full of mystery. The larger canvases by Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese in room 10 should not be missed either. Titian painted the Pieta for his own tomb, demonstrating his extraordinary ability to create light with his palette. Veronese's bawdy picture, entitled Feast in the House of Levi, was originally painted as The Last Supper but the artist was forced to change the title after charges of indecorum.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 0815-1915, Mon 0815-1400.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Campo della Carita, Dorsoduro 1050, Venice, Italy
Telephone: (041) 520 0345.
Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace)

The Doge's Palace (once home to the elected leader of Venice, the Doge, as well as the city's political nerve centre) is a must-see attraction in Venice. A merging of Islamic and Gothic styles, the facade dates from 1365. The interior is more Renaissance in style, dating mainly from the 16th century. The first floor is predominantly made up of the Ducal apartments which are still home to some exemplary paintings by Titian and Bellini. The Palazzo also houses ancient prison cells and an armoury.

Opening Times: Daily 0830-1900 (Apr-Oct); 0830-1730 (Nov-Mar).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: Yes
Address: Porta del Frumento, Piazzetta San Marco, Venice, Italy
Telephone: (041) 271 5911.
Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs)

The Bridge of Sighs is a 17th century architectural masterpiece that linked the Doge’s palace to the prison cells on the opposite side of the small canal. There is thought to be a romantic notion that lovers would find eternal happiness by kissing under the bridge at sunset. The truth behind the name comes from the sighs heard as prisoners crossed the bridge to a former prison, catching a glimpse of the world for the final time. Casanova was one of the famous prisoners to cross this bridge, although he was fortunate to leave the prison alive. After three years under scaffolding and advertising banners, the restoration of the bridge was completed in 2012.

Opening Times: Daily 24 hours.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Riva degli Schiavoni, San Marco, Venice, Italy
Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)

Venice is located on Rialto Island, the name of which is derived from the Latin rivus altus, meaning high bank. In the 10th century, a market developed spontaneously on the adjacent island and so, in 1264, the first wooden bridge linking the two landmasses was built. This wooden bridge collapsed in 1444 from the weight of crowds watching a wedding procession. It was replaced in 1591, by Antonio da Ponte's design, for the current single-stone arched bridge we see today. Each side of the bridge has been lined with two rows of shops since the 15th century which today cater to tourists. Until 1854, this was the only point at which the Grand Canal could be crossed on foot.

Opening Times: Daily 24 hours.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: Yes
Address: Ponte di Rialto, Venice, Italy
Palazzo Grassi

Also part of the Francois Pinault Foundation, this impressive museum displays numerous works, including Francois Pinault's vast collection. Controversial artist Jeff Koons' colourful giant Balloon Dog is on display in the main hall while upstairs, video artist Bill Viola and installations by artist duo Peter Fischili and David Weiss.

Opening Times: Wed-Mon 1000-1900.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: Yes
Address: Campo San Samuele, Venice, Italy
Telephone: (041) 523 1680.
Punta della Dogana

The former customs house of the city was spectacularly renovated by architect Tadao Ando and opened in 2009 as a centre for contemporary art showcasing works from the François Pinault Collection. Visitors can expect to see big names from the contemporary art world like Maurizio Cattelan, Bruce Nauman, Sigmar Polke and Tatiana Trouve.

Opening Times: Wed-Mon 1000-1900.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: Yes
Address: Dorsoduro, 2 30123 , Venice, Italy
Telephone: (041) 523 1680.
Casa dei Tre Oci (House of Three Eyes)

Recently reopened by Fondazione di Venezia to show temporary contemporary art exhibitions, the neo-Gothic building with its three huge arched windows is alone worth a visit to Guidecca Island.

Opening Times: Tues-Sunday 1000-1800.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Giudecca 43, Venice, Italy
Telephone: (041) 241 2332.
Museo di San Marco (St. Mark’s Museum)

This museum is the location of a vast collection of mosaics and textiles which are an important part of Italy’s architectural and cultural history. Discarded mosaics are lovingly restored here in a studio dedicated to the art, and enormous traditional woollen tapestries, woven on one of the earliest evidenced looms, hang on display in the arched hallways.

Opening Times: Daily 0945-1645.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: Yes
Address: Procuratoria di San Marco, San Marco 328, Venice, Italy
Telephone: (041) 270 8311.
Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Peggy Guggenheim's collection of modern art is probably the most distinguished in Italy. The wealthy American heiress (a generous benefactor who helped promote Jackson Pollock amongst others) built up her collection between 1938 and 1947. Following the exhibition of the collection at the 1948 Venice Biennale, she bought the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, where she lived until her death in 1979, leaving her estate to the Solomon Guggenheim Foundation. The collection spans Cubism, European Abstraction, Surrealism and early American Abstract Expressionism, with works by a wide variety of artists, including Pollock, Picasso, Kandinsky and Dalí. The sculpture garden is particularly fine and enjoys lovely views over the Grand Canal. Several temporary exhibitions each year provide another good reason to visit.

Opening Times: Daily 1000-1800 (closed Tues).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, 704 Dorsoduro, Venice, Italy
Telephone: (041) 240 5411.
Scuola Dalmata di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni (Dalmatian School of St George the Slav)

During the Middle Ages, the large Dalmatian (Schiavoni means 'Slav') population in Venice provided labourers for building ships and sailors for the Venetian fleets. Forming a charitable guild in 1451, they moved their seat to the School of St George in 1480, under the patronage of the Knights of Malta. Vittore Carpaccio, himself of Istrian origin, painted a series of celebrated and brilliantly imaginative canvases, between 1502 and 1508. Located in a dark hall on the ground floor since 1551, the canvases depict scenes from the lives of the guild's patron saints - St George, St Tryphone and St Jerome. Based on tales from The Golden Legend, the images depict St George killing the dragon, St Jerome welcoming the lion into the monastery, the funeral of St Jerome and the revelation of the death of St Jerome to St Augustine. Carpaccio's canvases demand attention through a combination of drama and extraordinary detail.

Opening Times: Tues-Sat 0930-1230 and 1530-1830, Sun 0930-1230 (Apr-Oct); Tues-Sat 1000-1230 and 1500-1800, Sun 1000-1230 (Nov-Mar).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Calle dei Furlani 3259/A, Castello, Venice, Italy
Telephone: (041) 522 8828.
Scuola Grande di San Rocco (School of St Roch)

The renown of the School of St Roch, one of the many lay fraternities established in Venice for charitable works, is the series of masterful canvases by Jacopo Tintoretto that decorate its interior. Founded in 1478, the school was dedicated to St Roch, following a particularly vicious outbreak of plague. Tintoretto won the commission to decorate the entire Scuola in 1564 and spent the next 23 years doing so. The ground floor holds a series of large canvasses depicting scenes from the Life of the Virgin. In the upper hall, connected by Scarpagnino's staircase, are representations from the Old Testament on the ceiling and New Testament on the walls. The famous Victorian writer and art critic, John Ruskin, reserved his greatest praise for the Sala dell'Albergo, where the chapter met. On entering the room, the visitor is confronted with the stunning expanse of Tintoretto's Crucifixion along the breadth of the opposite wall, one of the world's great works of art.

Opening Times: Daily 0900-1730.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Campo San Rocco, San Polo 3054, Venice, Italy
Telephone: (041) 523 4864.
The Prada Foundation

This non-profit organization was set up by Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli to show contemporary art. Like many Venice galleries and museums, the spectacular three storey, 18th-century palazzo on the Grand Canal that houses the foundation is alone worth a visit.

Opening Times: Daily 1000-1800 (closed Tuesdays).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Calle de Ca' Corner, Santa Croce 2215 , Venice, Italy
Telephone: (041) 810 9161.
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