The name for Venice comes from the Veneti people who inhabited the area as early as the 10th century BC. Venice is built on a lagoon and much of the city is covered as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. With over 118 islands encompassing the area of Venice, the city is linked by its various pathways, canals, and rivers. Venice is an iconic city the world over, everyone has seen pictures of its famous canals and renaissance era artworks and buildings. But there are several buildings and landmarks around the town that you shouldn’t miss, and because Venice is a relatively small city, much of it can be seen in a day or two. Explore the oldest buildings in Venice that will leave you in awe. First things first, secure your retreat at one of the best hostels and boat rentals in the city. Read below to learn about some of the most famous buildings in Venice, Italy.
1. Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
The Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo is a small palace (or palazzo) that is best known for its interesting spiral staircase known as the Scala Contarini del Bovolo (or “the snail”). This famous Venice building was designed in the 15th century as a home for the affluent Contrarini Family and it has since been featured in Orson Welle’s rendition of Shakespeare’s “Othello” in multiple scenes. As of 2016, it’s been made available to the public to visit, and the top of the staircase offers a great view of the city.
Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
Address: Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
Website: Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
2. St. Mark's Basilica
St. Mark’s Basilica is one of Venice’s most visited locations and for good reason. This famous landmark in Venie is located in the Piazza San Marco and is known for its opulent design and gold mosaics which are symbolic of the city’s wealth and power during the Renaissance period. Because of its lavish design, the church has been known as the “Church of Gold”
St Mark's Basilica
Address: Piazza San Marco, 328, 30100 Venezia VE, Italy
Website: St Mark’s Basilica
3. Ca' Pesaro
The large Baroque marble facade is hard to miss when you’re on a tour along the grand canal of Venice. The Ca’ Pesaro was designed in the mid-17th century and today it is one of 11 museums found in Venice. The building was built for the wealthy Pesaro family but the main architect passed during its completion. The building currently houses works of art from the 19th and 20th century as well as contains a section of graphic art.
Address: Santa Croce, 2076, 30135 Venezia VE, Italy
Website: Ca’ Pesaro
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4. Punta della Dogana
Punta della Dogana is located between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal at the tip of an island. This building is grand and, much like other buildings in Venice, it too is very opulent and thus hard to miss. The area was used for docking boats in the 15th century and it was used as the customs building. Now, Punta della Dogana is one of Venice’s local art museums and with its large white domes and lavish design, it is surely hard to miss.
Punta della Dogana
Address: Dorsoduro, 2, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
Website: Punta della Dogana
5. Palazzo Fortuny
Palazzo Fortuny is located in the San Marco area of Venice and is another one of Venice’s beautiful art museums. The place is the former studio of Spanish fashion designer Mariano Fortuny who lived there from 1902. The museum is largely dedicated to Fortuny and guests can find paintings, fabrics and even Fortuny’s own lamps on the first floor as well as a little bit of history on the Palazzo.
Address: San Marco, 3958, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
Website: Palazzo Fortuny
6. Ca' Rezzonico
The Ca’ Rezzonico is another one of Venice’s old opulent buildings that now houses a museum. The building was designed in the 18th-century Venetian style Baroque architecture which can be observed from its outside facade as well as its interior designs. Visitors typically arrive at the museum via the Grand Canal so pulling up to it offers a great view of the white facade. In its current form, the Ca’ Rezzonico is a museum dedicated to 18th-century Venice.
Address: Dorsoduro, 3136, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
Website: Ca’ Rezzonico
7. Doge's Palace
No, this is not the home of the popular Doge meme but it is actually one of the most iconic landmarks in Venice. The palace is built in Venetian Gothic style and the former residence of the Supreme Authority of the Former Venetian Republic. The building was established in 1340 and the oldest part of the building overlooks the lagoon with 14th-century sculptures adorning the corners of the palace. From 1923 the palace was established as a museum. Nowadays, it is one of the most famous things in Venice.
Address: Piazza San Marco, 1, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
Website: Doge’s Palace
8. Carta Gate
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Carta Gate is probably one of the lesser known landmarks around Venice, though it is not as grand as some of the others, it is just as ornate and decorative in design as many of them. The Carta Gate is the main entrance way between St Mark’s Basilica and Doge Palace. The gate was built in the 14th century and can be easily missed if you’re not on the lookout for it, so make sure to be looking out for this elegant piece of Gothic art.
Address: Piazza San Marco, 1, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
Website: Carta Gate
9. Ca' Vendramin Calergi
Ca’ Vendramin Calergi was built in 1509 and the palace is three stories high. It can be accessed from the Grand Canal via a gondola ride, which is also one of the most romantic things to do in Venice. The building is beautiful and the facade certainly stands out among the other designs in Venice. But where the building really stands out is the fact that over the years, it has been home to many prominent people, the most popular of whom was composer Richard Wagner who died there. The building houses a Wagner museum which is open on Saturdays via appointment. Currently, the Ca’ Vendramin Calergi houses Venice Casino.
Ca' Vendramin Calergi
Address: Cannaregio, 2040, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy
Website: Ca’ Vendramin Calergi
10. Scuola Grande di San Marco
Scuola Grande di San Marco was built in 1260 to act as a home of one of the six sodalities of Venice. It also happens to face one of the largest squares in Venice, the Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, so you can observe the beautiful building and take in the sights around the square. The home is very emblematic of Venetian Renaissance style or architecture, and it has a very beautiful and ornate facade.
Scuola Grande di San Marco
Address: Campo dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo, 6777, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy
Website: Scuola Grande di San Marco
Opulent and Ornate
The buildings and monuments in Venice are all full of history and all full of life and character, even after hundreds of years since they were built. You can’t go anywhere in Venice without walking past something historic or culturally important. Make the most of your time in Venice by checking out the best GetYourGuide tours to join and street food markets to visit.
Frequently asked questions about famous buildings in Venice
1. Which are the best architectural buildings in Venice for kids and families to visit?
Ca’ Pesaro, Palazzo Fortuny, Ca’ Rezzonico, and Scuola Grande di San Marco are some of the best architectural buildings in Venice that will be enjoyed by all ages, especially those who are visiting the city with their kids.
2. Which are the best architectural buildings in Venice for couples to visit?
For couples who are wishing to explore the most romantic architectural buildings in Venice, check out Carta Gate, Ca’ Rezzonico, Punta della Dogana, and Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo. These are some lesser-known structures that provide an intimate vibe to your trip.
3. Which are the best architectural buildings in Venice for groups to visit?
St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, Ca’ Vendramin Calergi, and Scuola Grande di San Marco are some of the amazing architectural buildings in Venice that are best visited by groups. There are plenty of sights to see around these famous landmarks that will entice your whole party!
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