Venice – a universe within itself – as I may describe it; is not only a city built on water but a city that is home to a hundred of the world’s greatest architects, artists, writers, sculptors, painters, and glass masters. As unfair as it may sound to not mention all of them but here are a few names of some architects you would recognize easily being an architecture student or professional such as Andrea Palladio, Baldassare Longhena, and Carlo Scarpa.

If you are planning to revisit the history of many of the architectural styles at one time, then Venice is your ideal spot highlighting the era of Renaissance, Gothic, Byzantine, and Moorish architecture. Here is a list of 15 Places Architects must visit in Venice, Italy.

1. Mark’s Basilica

Dating back to the 9th century, the basilica stands magnificently behind a 30 storey campanile as a masterpiece of Gothic(Italian and Venetian) and Byzantine architecture meticulously blended. It is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. Lying at its heart are the relics of Saint Mark the Evangelist and treasures stolen as a religious and artistic prestige showing off wealth and power at that time.

With 500 columns of 6th, 8th, and some of the 3rd century, this basilica bears over 8000 sqm of mosaics with biblical figures and stories. Even the high altar is a statement of art designed with pearls, emeralds, sapphires, garnets, amethysts, rubies, and topazes. There is no way your eyes can wander off for a while because the structure, ornamentation, material, etc. is art on its own.

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Interior Picture Of St Mark’s Basilica ©AskIdeas
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St Mark’s Basilica At Night, Venice, Italy ©Matteo Colombo

 

2. Palazzo Ducale (Doges’ Palace):

Built with the intention of Venetian government leader’s residence and government council, Palazzo Ducale sits on the St. Mark’s Square adjacent to the Basilica of St. Mark facing the lagoon. It is a hallmark of Venetian architecture designed initially by Filippo Calendario in 1340. Later on other famous architects such as Giovanni Bon and his son Bartolomeo Bon, Andrea Palladio, etc. contributed to its later phases of construction.

One would not want to miss being delighted by the main entrance gate “Porta Della Carta” designed by Bartolomeo Bon in 1438 with an influence of Byzantine architecture. This palace is a hybrid of Gothic, Morrish, Byzantine, and Renaissance architectural styles. It lives to display the works of Antonio Rizzo, a sculptor from Verona and paintings by Tintoretto, Titian, etc.

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Porta della Carta ©Wikipedia
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Palazzo Ducale ©Touropia

3. Punta Della Dogana

Sitting at the merging point of Grand Canal and Giudecca Canal, Punta Della Dogana was a customs house built by Giuseppe Benoni in 1682 which, to this day, captures your sight by the famous sculptural work done by the architect: where the two Atlases lift a golden bronze sphere on top of which is Fortune indicating the direction of the wind.

It is now not only considered as the merging point of two canals but of the old Venetian architecture and modern architecture. After 20 years of abandonment, it was taken as an adaptive reuse project by the famous Japanese architect, Tadao Ando, who transformed it into a museum for the display of contemporary artworks around the world, symbolized by the new statue that sits in front of it of a boy holding a frog.

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Interior of new contemporary art space © Luca Girardini
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Punta della Dogana © Pinterest
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Boy statue in front of Penta della Dagona,© Thomas Mayer

4. Palazzo Querini Stampalia

Located near St. Mark’s Square, this palace holds heritage to the Venetian family of Querini Stampalia who is one of those who founded the city. It was established in 1869 and later credits add to the work of famous architects: Carlo Scarpa, Valeriano Pastor, and Mario Botta.

Major renovation work is done by Carlo Scarpa depicting the four themes of 20th century Italian architecture: the bridge, the entrance, the portego, and the garden; with water being the primary element.

Apart from the conventional style of architecture seen in Venice, Italy, this palace would surely be another refreshing experience, joining hands with the world of today. Once you have entered this space, you will notice the sophisticated details of materials; corners and structures enrich your senses.

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Details of Palazzo Querini Stampalia ©Ivo Stani
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Palazzo Querini Stampalia By Carlo Scarpa (1961-1963), ©Fondazione Querini Stampalia

5. Ca’ Rezzonico

Being a residential heritage, Ca’ Rezzonico has been turned into a museum displaying works of painters like Jacopo Tintoretto and Bonifacio de ‘Pitati; a collection of 18th-century furniture; and sculpture and frescoes on the ceiling.

It is the result of great architects like Baldassare Longhena and Giorgio Massari coming into its final form in 1756.

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Interior of Ca’ Rezzonico ©Flickr

6. Ca’ d’Oro

The “house of gold”, originally known as Palazzo Santa Sofia is a work of Venetian Gothic architecture. It has been a residence for many but now holds the title of a museum displaying Renaissance paintings, antiques, sculptures, and ceramics. The embellishments and work of great artisans and the great architects Giovanni Bon and his son Bartolomeo of the 15th century stand on the bank of the Grand Canal proving to be just another masterpiece of Venetian architecture.

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Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca’ d’Oro; ©Getty Images/DeAgostini

7. Torre dell’ Orologio

The St. Mark’s Clock tower stands tall at the north of Piazza San Marco highlighting the wealth and power of Venice, Italy over the lagoon. Designed by Mauro Codussi, this beautiful Renaissance building bearing an astrological clock as its eye is a marvel of the 15th century. The structure bridges the political and religious part of the city to the commercial and financial parts through the archway.

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Torre dell’Orologio ©Marie-Lan Nguyen

8. Basilica Santi Giovanni e Paolo

It is one of the largest churches in Venice where after the 15th century all the funerals of the doges were held. It comprises 36 funerary monuments, out of which 25 belong to doges; and 150 headstones.

If you are looking to be astonished, then the interior waits to surprise you by the work of great artists. For example, an altarpiece by Giovanni Bellini, the ceiling of Giambattista Piazzetta, canvas by Lorenzo Lotto, and a cycle of paintings by Paolo Veronese.

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Interior of The Church ©Matthias Kabel
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Basilica Santi Giovanni e Paolo ©PINIMG

9. Museo Correr

As a figure of the Napoleonic and Hapsburg periods, the building holds significance with neo-classical influence in architecture, decor, frescoes, and furnishings. From architectural details of staircases to luxurious ballrooms and libraries, the museum showcases furniture, naval instruments, paintings, statues, and artworks of the 16th-19th century.

Some of the greatest artworks that will leave you lingering on to your journey for a lifetime are Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana with its walls full of frescoes, the statue of Orpheus and Eurydice by Canova, and the famous frescoed ceiling of the staircase by Sebastiano Santi showing his work “The Glory of Neptune”.

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Museo Correr ©Phil Marion
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Museo Correr ©Flickr

10. Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore

If you are lucky enough to be traveling to Venice by sea then get ready to fall in love at first sight with the church of San Giorgio Maggiore standing opposite San Marco Basilica.

Initially designed by Andrea Palladio in 1566, the project was given its final touch by Vincenzo Scamozzi in 1610. With the Palladian architectural style, one can see the two temple fronts superimposed on each other appreciating its creator making the church stand out amongst the others.

What makes it stand out is that once you start to dig deeper into the detail, it keeps on unfolding new wonders of renaissance, classical and Palladian combinations. It has one of the greatest treasures of paintings ever made in history i.e. Tintoretto’s ‘Ultima Cena’ (The Last Supper) and ‘Raccolta Della Manna’ (The Fall Of Manna).

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Ultima Cena” (San Giorgio Maggiore) Tintoretto ©www.arteworld.it
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Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore ©Teggelaar

11. Scuola Grande Di San Rocco

Named after Saint Roch, the protector against plague, this building built in 1560 is a work of Bartolomeo Bon and his son Pietro Bon followed by Sante Lombardo, Antonio Scarpagnino, and Giangiacomo dei Gigi. The white marble façade with golden and multi-colored carve windows is a royal building embracing about 60 paintings inside its chest which include works by famous artists such as, Tintoretto, Titian, etc.

The interior has its ceiling dressed in gold and blue carvings filled with Tintoretto’s dramatic painting makes the room look elegant. The intricate marble pattern on the floor, the wooden sculptures and statues keep reviving the history and the beauty of the building.

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Scuola Grande Di San Rocco ©Lemi.Travel
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Scuola Grande Di San Rocco ©Teggelaar
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Scuola Grande Di San Rocco ©Teggelaar

12. San Zaccaria church

One of the many UNESCO heritage sites in Venice, the church stands to replace the old church dating back to the 9th century. The church is a monument of the late-Gothic and early-Renaissance period worked on by Antonio Gambello and Mauro Codussi with a white marble façade and tall windows.

The old church sits next to it. On the inside, the church unfolds the beauty of frescoes done by the most renowned artists of Venice including Tintoretto and Giovanni Bellini, relics of Saints and a golden altarpiece by Antonio Vivarini and Giovanni d’Alemagna.

Not to forget, you would be amazed to see the crypt lying underground flooded with water where the 8 tombs of the doges rest in peace. You can find the life-size sculpture “Sound II” by Antony Gormley contemplating on water held in his cupped hands.

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San Zaccaria church ©Flickr
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Sound II by Antony Gormley ©FinelyStrung
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Interior of The Church ©WowAbouts

13. La Fenice Opera House (Teatro La Fenice)

Of the neoclassical age, designed by a neoclassical architect, Giannantonio Selva, the theatre is a great benchmark achieved through strategic design. It is a perfect display of classic Italian architecture with a sealed loggia reminding the audience of the Italian Piazza.

This theatre was an identity of Venetian nobility, continuing to this day, surrounding the audience with gold and mirrors. To enhance this concept, the theatre was made to face the canal to have a water entrance to the backstage and the theatre.

You can also be inspired by the touches of Aldo Rossi’s work of renovation after the two major fires made the theatre its victim.

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La Fenice Opera House – Interior Design ©VeniceInsider
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Gold ornamentation in the interior ©Brian Dooley
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The typical Italian closed boxes at La Fenice ©TheVeniceInsider

14. Giardini della Biennale

Being an architect you would not want to visit the 42,000 m² gardens built in the time of Napoleon’s rule when he decided to bless his people with green spaces. The garden is now used as an art exhibition yearly by different countries promoting ideas, culture, and thoughts.

Garden of Sculpture by Carlo Scarpa adds enticing details into the scenery with modesty and sophistication. Thus, the enlightening experience of the cultivation of space psychology plays an important role.

Home to many pavilions, the garden lies on the banks of the canal of Venice.

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View of the Giardini della Biennale; on the right, the Pavilion of Australia, completed in 2015 © Riccardo Bianchini
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Sculpture garden by Carlo ©Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
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Building Bridges by Lorenzo Quinn ©Halcyon Art International

15. Palazzo Grassi

Originally a neoclassical building, Giorgio Massari, is one of the last residential buildings of its time. It belonged to the Grassi family, later owned by FIAT owner, and is currently owned by Francois Pinnault.

The interior holds spaces, private rooms, and large halls that are placed around a central rectangular inner courtyard. Currently, this palace is used to display Pinault collection, Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions, etc.

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Exterior of Palazzo Grassi ©CloudFront

 

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Interior of the place ©Pinimg

The third phase of renovation work is done by Tadao Ando, which combines the new art space of Punta Della Dogana with the palace’s new building made for conferences and performances. The new building provides neat monochrome interior space drawing attention towards the play of light keeping the senses alert and alive.

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Light and matter shape monochromatic space ©Ideal Work

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Syeda Neha Zaidi
Author

With an ambitious spirit to explore the world, Neha has embarked upon building her professional journey beginning from UAE, to Egypt, to what future holds next; to uncover the “extraordinary” in the places we see as ordinary keeping one eye ahead of the time and deeper into how architecture influences socio-culture, norms and behavior.

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