|MAIN THINGS TO SEE|
St. Mark's Square: is famous all over the world; it forms a great marble salon all around, covered galleries which shelter famous cafes and luxury shops. The square opens on the Grand Canal through the delightful Piazzetta.
The two granite columns surmounted by the Lion of St. Mark and the statue of St. Theodore were brought from Constantinople.
St. Mark's Basilica: the Basilica was the state church of the Republic and is a structure of mingled Byzantine and European styles, built from 1063 and 1073 to shelter the tomb of the Evangelist Mark.
Changes were made at the time of the Renaissance and in the 17C. The decoration is extraordinarily profuse and gorgeous.
St. Mark's, built on the plan of a Greek cross, is surmounted by a bulbous dome flanked by four smaller domes of unequal height placed on the arms of the cross. The rich decoration earned the basilica the name "golden church".
Whenever an expedition returned from the Levant, it brought works of art to St. Mark's; the walls are therefore encrusted with marble and precious sculptures.
The facade is pierced by five large doorways adorned with variegated marbles and sculptures.
The central doorway is surmounted by the four famous bronze horses brought from Constantinople. They were once alleged to be the work of Lysippus. In 1797, Napoleon I had them removed to Paris, but they were returned to their original site at the fall of the French Empire. The dazzling decoration of the interior is composed of rare marbles, porphyry and mosaics of Byzantine and Renaissance inspiration on gilded backgrounds which blend with the architecture. The XIIth century paving is highly decorative.
Doges' Palace: The palace was a symbol of Venetian power and glory and was both the residence of the Doges and the seat of government. A pretty geometrical pattern in white and pink marble lends great charm to the facade.
The courtyard is a splendid example of the Renaissance style, richly adorned with sculptures. The facade at the far end is remarkable for its alternating rhythmic bays and Venetian arches and its decoration of pilasters and friezes.
The College Hall used to be the ambassadors' audience room.
The ceiling is decorated with eleven paintings by Veronese and his pupils.
Above the ducal throne Veronese painted Sebastian Venier, the Christian naval commander giving thanks to Christ for the naval victory of Lepanto over the Turks. On the walls are allegories by Tintoretto with portraits of the Doges.
The ceiling of the Senate Chamber is decorated with a remarkable Apotheosis of Venice by Tintoretto, who also painted the Descent from the Cross. The meeting chamber is the finest room in the palace, measuring 52x23 m. The walls are adorned with paintings illustrating Venetian history; in the Grand Council Chamber, Tintoretto's Paradise is one of the largest paintings in the world. Connecting the palace to the 17th century prison is the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri), a covered stone passageway built in 1600.
The sighs were not those of lovers, but of prisoners glimpsing light and perhaps life for the last time through the bridge's tiny latticed windows.
Campanile: the straight-lined simplicity of this 99 meters high bell-tower provides a contrast with the riot of decoration on the basilica. From the summit there is a fine panorama of Venice.
The campanile, which was first erected in the 10th century collapsed in 1902 and was rebuilt.
The Clock Tower dates from the end of the 15th century. The dial bears the signs of the zodiac. On its summit are the famous Mori (Moors), a pair of giant bronze jacks who have been striking the hours for over 500 years.
The Grand Canal, called by the French writer Philippe de Commine in the XVth century 'the finest street in all the world", has the finest mansions in Venice.
The canal is nearly two miles long and is lined with two hundred 12-18C marble palaces in which the patricians used to live.
The most famous palaces are:
- Palazzo Corner on the Cą Grande, late Renaissance
- Palazzo Corner -Spinelli, Renaissance
- Palazzo Grimani, late Renaissance
- Cą d'Oro, the "golden house". This is the most elegant palace in Venice, in late Gothic style (1440). It used to be gilded.
- Palazzo Vendramin-Calergi, (Renaissance), where Wagner died in 1883.
- Palazzo Dario, Gothic
- Palazzo Rezzonico, imposing and well balanced late Renaissance. It houses an XVIII century museum.
- Palazzo Foscari, 15th century Gothic brick. This was the residence of Doge Foscari.
- Palazzo Pesaro, a Baroque masterpiece (1710). Inside is a gallery of modem art and a museum of Oriental art.
- Ponte di Rialto, the graceful Rialto Bridge, built from 1588 to 1592 was designed to allow an armed galley to pass under it. It is the centre of the business quarter, lined with shops and galleries from which you can have a unique view of the Grand Canal.
ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS
The Academy is housed in the School and Church of St. Mary of Charity. It displays a complete review of- Venetian painting. There are masterpieces by: Giovanni Bellini, Carpaccio, Mantegna, Giorgione, Titian, Veronese, Tiepolo, Canaletto, Longhi and Guardi.