Venice. This word has its own charisma. The moonlit skies, a gondola decorated with flowers, the marvelous Gothic architecture highlighted by the dim yellow lights, the soft cool breeze and the two of you. This is no dream place, but a heaven especially made for the love birds. Situated in northeastern Italy, Venice comprises of 118 small islands which are separated by small canals and interconnected by bridges. The city because of its uniqueness and architecture has been listed as one of the World Heritage sites. Famous for its weather and scenic beauty, Venice also has encouraged art and fashion. In spite of the occasional threats of the ‘Acqua alta’ (high waters), it has been ranked as the 28th most internationally visited city in the world. Venice, in true sense is the ecstatic location for the blooming romance and luxurious encounter.
A 3800m long, reverse S shaped canal forms the major transport route for the city, connecting Santa Lucia Railway Station on one end and Saint Mark Basin on the other. Formerly known as ‘Rio Businiacus’, it is believed that the canal follows the course of an old river which was a branch of the Brenta. The Grand Canal is lined with houses dating from the 13th century. As time passed, the Grand Canal became of prime importance as a trading center and the number of fonduca (houses of the trading merchants and the warehouses as one unit) increased exponentially. The Venetian Gothic architecture came into picture at a later stage. This architecture flaunts its elegance through the thinner column sections and the intertwining porticos which are plastered in mesmerizing colors. Besides this, the Grand Canal also displays the architecture from the Renaissance period and the Neoclassical architecture. The palaces (Palazzos) portray the magnificent works from these eras. It proves to be a treat to observe this array of constructions on a single path. And yes! This is the same place where so many of the romantic snippets have been shot in various movies.
Saint Mark’s Basilica
Known as the Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco (Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint Mark), the cathedral was built to shelter the relics of St. Mark and symbolizes the Italo-Byzantine architecture. It is situated abutting the Piazza San Marco and was declared as the cathedral of the Patriarch of Venice in 1807. Also known as the ‘Church of gold’ due to its golden artwork, the Basilica is one of the must visits in Venice. The architecture is influenced by the Greek cross and has a dome at the crossing as well. The four domes are divided into three parts upper, middle and lower. The interior of the domed structure spellbinds all its spectators with its colorful mosaics and picturesque engravings on the marble facades. The place which now attracts tourists from all over the world to admire the golden altarpiece, also serves as a political and social heritage of the city. The entry into the basilica is free, yet restricted. But you can always mange to reserve tickets and take a guided tour to soak in all possible information of this opulent memorial.
Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square)
Spread in front of the Saint Mark’s Basilica and surrounded by the Clock Tower, Procuratie Vecchie (houses and offices of the procurators of St. Mark), Ala Napoleanica (Napolean Wing), and the Libreria. Redecorated by Giuseppe Soli and Lorenzo Santi, the structure reflects Neoclassic architecture and is incorporated to the Doge’s palace. The Museo Correr (Correr Museum) provides a description of the art and the history that was rampant in the city from the 15th Century. The museum houses varied art works in the form of paintings, maiolica, glass pieces, bornzes etc. and is considered as the art-lovers’ paradise. It also comprises of a Throne room, a Ballroom and a Banqueting Hall were most of the public is concentrated. The entire museum has been divided into rooms and has been numbered for the convenience of the visitors. Room numbers 6 to 18 exhibit the lifestyle, culture and political history of the Republic of Venice while the rooms after 19 are dedicated for the display of sculptures and paintings from different eras.
The oldest to span the Grand Canal out of the four existing bridges, the Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge) cannot go without a mention. The bridge was built using two inclined ramps connecting a portico and has a clear depth of 7.5m in 1591. It was the only way of crossing the Grand Canal by foot before the other three were constructed. Also, it proved as a division between the two districts of San Marco and San Polo. The bridge helped in the shipping of goods and hence helped the trading in the city. The bridge is the symbol of elegance and marvel in the city as it defied the predictions of being unstable. The arched structure also manages to hold shops which are a craze in the tourists. So be sure that you ain’t finding this place empty ever!
Better not miss out on…
Apart from these famous places, Venice has a lot more to treat you. The Lido or Venice Lido is an elongated sand beach and hosts the Film Festival every September. Another attraction for the adventure lovers is the Poveglia Island. Bisected by a small canal, it lies between the Lido and city of Venice. This place is known for its scary and mystifying atmosphere because of its disturbing history and has been shown in different shows for the same reason.
Enclosed in the Fondaco dei Torchi, the Natural museum of Venice holds a number of scientific collections. Besides all these fascinations, the Carnival of Venice is also a popular tourist attraction because of the elaborate masks. One of the oldest café in Venice, the Café Florian can also be visited. This place serves coffee along with a small sedentary visit to the cities rich and artistic history!