Venice is one of the world’s unique cities, known as the city of canals. It has a plethora of buildings having gothic art and architecture, which Venice is also renowned for.
The gothic architecture in Venice is unique from others. It combines different cultural influences that Venice gathered from centuries of trade with other cities.
When you visit Venice, you shall be able to see different styles and architectures that flourished in the Byzantine and Islamic cities. Characteristics of the Renaissance period and influences from various secular and religious groups are present too.
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In this blog post, I share 10 beautiful buildings in Venice that are utterly awe-inspiring! I added some facts to give you insights into each structure. Google Maps coordinates are linked below to guide you in visiting these buildings and visiting Venice.
At the end of the post, you will find a map and a tour route passing each beautiful building in Venice listed in this post. Do not forget to bookmark or pin this post if you liked it!
10 Most Beautiful Buildings in Venice
Each building has its unique design, beautiful in its own way. Thus, I cannot compare exactly and arrange the list as to which is the best. So, I sorted them in alphabetical order:
- Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco
- Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute
- Ca’ d’Oro
- Ca’ Rezzonico
- Doge’s Palace
- La Fenice
- Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
- Santa Maria di Nazareth Church
- Scuola Grande di San Marco
Let’s discuss each beautiful building in Venice below:
Building #1: Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco
This list of the beautiful buildings in Venice kicks off with the most well-known landmark in Venice, the Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark (Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco), also known as the Saint Mark’s Basilica.
Saint Mark’s Basilica is the building you can find east of Saint Mark’s square, the political and religious center of the bygone Republic of Venice.
The basilica was built in the early 9th century. However, the majority of the church’s design we can see today is already the outcome of its third rebuilding, finished in 1094.
Learn where exactly is Saint Mark’s Basilica in Google Maps.
Every part of Saint Mark’s Basilica will awe-inspire you.
Its facades, exteriors, interiors, domes, and ceilings are undeniably spectacular works of art. The basilica alone can be the reason why Venice is so worthy of visiting!
Saint Mark’s Basilica has three facades (north, south, and west). The most beautiful is the west facade that faces Saint Mark’s square. It contains so many details that you can’t just absorb them in one long glance.
The west facade of Saint Mark’s Basilica has five portals adorned with religiously meaningful bas relief on their tympanums. Each has two arches above, covered with stunning mosaics depicting biblical stories.
Above the windows and the largest portal of the west facade of Saint Mark’s Basilica is the golden image of the Winged Lion. It is the symbol of the city of Venice and Saint Mark the Evangelist, the patron saint of Venice.
There is so much elaboration in the west facade that describing it in words would be unjust to the beauty it possesses. Indeed, Saint Mark’s Basilica is beautiful outside, yet what’s waiting inside is even more breathtaking.
The interior of Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice is gold!
Literally, I mean it as well. The walls and ceiling of Saint Mark’s Basilica are mostly made up of gold mosaics.
Overall, the mosaics cover an impressive 8000 square meters (86111 square feet) surface area of the interiors of Saint Mark’s Basilica, which was created over 800 years.
It’s impossible to imagine how massive the work that was done just to get it finished!
The religious inscriptions, the images of the saints, Christianity’s history – all are presented with gleaming golded backgrounds. It’s a spellbinding spectacle that will give you goosebumps, especially if you have Catholic faith.
However, even if you’re not a believer, Saint Mark’s Basilica is still the place you will truly admire. The glamour and the unbelievable creativity humans have achieved in this church are just one of a kind.
Building #2: Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute
The next beautiful building in Venice to see is the iconic building you can see at the entrance of the Venice Grand Canal, the Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute. Most people just call it a Salute.
You can check its exact location here on Google Maps.
Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute was built in the 17th century as a vow to the Our Lady of Health for their deliverance from the Black Plague that scourged Europe back in the day. This is why some of the artworks you will find inside the Salute referenced the Black Plague.
The Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute has often inspired many artists. Mainly because of its symbolic presence in the Venetian skyline.
One of them is Canaletto. He painted the “Entrance to the Grand Canal” with the Venetians sailing in the water in front of Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute.
The exterior of the Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute has fewer details than compared to Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco. However, it is full of Marian symbolism, making it enjoyable to observe and figure out.
Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute has an octagonal shape seen from above.
Its eight sides represent the eight points in her symbolic star (halo). The dome represents her crown. Then the cavernous, the interior of her womb.
Istrian stone and Marmorino materials make up Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute. Its impressive exteriors are decorated with sculptures of different saints, evangelists, and prophets. You’ll love to see the proportions and symmetry of its exteriors, best observed while on a boat.
Building #3: Ca’ d’Oro
A 15th-century palace, Ca’ d’Oro, is the next beautiful building to see in Venice.
It is home to Titian & Van Dyck’s artworks and several Renaissance antiquities. Most people call it the Palazzo Santa Sofia.
Among the buildings in Venice, Ca’ d’Oro is the one regarded as the best surviving palazzo having Venetian Gothic architecture. Its facade has Bons’ floral Venetian Gothic style, similar to the famous Doge’s Palace, also discussed in this post.
Today, it is not only a building to see, but a museum you can visit too. Galleria Giorgio Franchetti currently resides in the Ca’ d’Oro, where several 15th to 17th-century sculptures and paintings can be found. One example is Madonna and Child by Michele Giambono.
Ca’ d’Oro has three stories, which you can easily detect by looking at its adorable facade.
The ground floor has a loggia or a covered exterior corridor having five arches. The second and third floors have balconies, each having five columns with quatrefoil window designs on top.
It’s really admirable because of the architecture of the two balconies harmonizing with each other. The arches and columns align, and the quatrefoil windows above each column make an absolutely captivating pattern.
Not to mention the other details like the embellishments on the roof, the rectangular frames outside the window, and the wavy edges that all make Ca’ d’Oro look so elegant. It is just the building that you won’t miss photographing as you cruise along the Venice Grand Canal.
Ca’ d’Oro has beautiful interiors as well.
The patterns on the floor of the building’s portego, called Cosmatesque, are so Instagrammable! They have geometric patterns typical of the architecture of Medieval Italy.
Building #4: Ca’ Rezzonico
Another beautiful building in Venice is also a museum.
It is called Ca’ Rezzonico, a palazzo of Venetian rococo and baroque architecture and interior decoration. Ca’ Rezzonico is a public museum home to artworks and masterpieces of 18th-century Venice, managed by Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.
Ca’ Rezzonico stands along the banks of the Venice Grand Canal like Ca’ d’Oro in Venice’s Dorsoduro Sestiere district. Here is the exact location of Ca’ Rezzonico you can view on Google Maps.
The beauty of Ca’ Rezzonico originated in the minds of Baldassare Longhena and Giorgio Massari, who designed the building. These two were some of the greatest architects of Baroque architecture in Venice during their time.
The building’s construction fell short of funding in the beginning.
However, it still turned out to be successful work in the end. Now, its facade made of white marble columns, sculptures, and bas relief is one of the marvels enthralling visitors passing along the Grand Canal.
What’s really spectacular about Ca’ Rezzonico lies inside the building, where the most impressive paintings of the 18th-century Venetians are kept and shown to the public. Here you can find the masterpieces of the famous Giambattista Tiepolo, Giandomenico, Canaletto, Rosalba Carriera, and more.
Ca’ Rezzonico has four floors.
However, what you shall find most beautiful lies on the first floor, which has 11 rooms. Of these 11 rooms, three to awe-inspire you the most are the Tiepolo’s Room, Ballroom, and the Room of the Nuptial Allegory. Prepare your necks because the frescoes and paintings from these rooms are extraordinary.
The ballroom, its ceiling frescoes, and its two majestic chandeliers appeal to me the most.
Located in the middle of the ceiling is the fresco created by Giovanni Battista Crosato, depicting the chariot of Phoebus. Around the chariot is the image of the lives on the four continents: Africa, America, Asia, and Europe.
If you want to learn more about the museum inside Ca’ Rezzonico, download the PDF file below from the official website of Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia. Here you can find more history, the building, layout and collections, maps, and general information about Ca’ Rezzonico.
Explore Ca’ Rezzonico’s ballroom using the 360-image below:
Building #5: Doge’s Palace
You will see Venice’s most notable landmarks and most beautiful buildings when visiting Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square).
The Doge’s Palace is attached to the awe-inspiring Basilica of Saint Mark, an icon of Venetian Gothic architecture. It is also called Palazzo Ducale or Duke’s Palace in direct translation to English.
Doge’s Palace was the residence of the chief magistrate and leader of the Republic of Venice between 726 and 1797. For centuries, it was the center of command of the city until it was transformed into a museum managed by Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia in 1923.
You can find its exact location using this link to Google Maps.
Everything in the Doge’s Palace is something to behold.
Its facades, courtyard, especially the rooms – all exhibit staggering beauty, just like the Basilica of Saint Mark beside it. The great wealth of the former Venetian republic is clearly apparent from it.
If you visit Doge’s Palace, the incredible experience starts outside the beautiful building – by viewing its facade with Gothic pinnacles on top. It has three parts, the upper part resembling late Byzantine Architecture and the middle and the lower parts manifesting Islamic and Gothic influences.
The architectures of the two lower parts of the Doge’s Palace harmonize well, creating patterns perfect for photographs.
It’s simply so eye-pleasing how an arch on the arcade (loggia) on the ground floor matches three columns on the second floor. Not to mention the repeated quatrefoil windows above the columns, which give it a more distinct Venetian character.
More impressive than just the actual appearance of Doge’s Palace is the meaning it implies. Read this statement I found:
“Unlike many other medieval era palaces, here at the Palazzo Ducale, the loggias are below while the solid walls are above. Architectural expects claim this gives the structure the ‘light’ feeling so indicative of Venetian buildings. The openness of the building is a testament to the power of the city, which did not feel the need for a fortified castle, like most other cities at the time.“
Inside the Doge’s Palace, more spectacular wonders await.
It has numerous rooms having some of the world’s most outstanding art you must not miss seeing. Doge’s Palace has five parts, though: Museo dell’Opera, Doge’s apartments, Institutional chambers, Old Prison or Piombi, and Bridge of Sighs and the New Prisons.
Among the parts of Doge’s Palace, the Chamber of the Great Council is the one that I honestly admire. It is one of the institutional chambers where you can find the Il Paradiso of Tintoretto, the longest canvas painting in the world.
Building #6: La Fenice
The 6th beautiful building in Venice on this list is different from the rest.
It has no stunning exteriors but has one of the grandest interiors you could ever see in Venice. It is called La Fenice or the Phoenix, one of the most beautiful theaters in Italy.
It first opened in 1792 but was repeatedly caught on fire throughout the centuries. Its latest reconstruction happened in 2001, and it reopened a week before the Christmas of 2003. You can find La Fenice’s exact location from this link to Google Maps.
The facade of La Fenice is designed in the neo-classical style, featuring sculptures that are symbols of performing arts. Above the balcony, you will see the masks of Comedy and Tragedy and the sculptures of muses of tragedy (Melpomene) and dance (Terpsichore).
La Fenice has different rooms or parts, like the foyer, house, royal box, Sale Apollinee, Sale Dane, and more. But among these, what will absolutely impress you so much is the house and the royal box. The embellishments are superb!
The interiors of the opera house of La Fenice were reconstructed in a rococo style based on the photo archives. The ceiling and the balconies are rich with golden stuccos and gildings of the finest quality. It’s a 360-view of glamour-inspiring view.
The lighting and the overall decoration of La Fenice’s opera house will transport you back into the 19th century. Not to mention the gorgeous chandelier in the middle center of the theater’s ceiling.
The height of the extravagance of La Fenice’s interiors peaks on the house’s royal box. In my judgment, it’s the most beautiful part of the theater. The royal box is literally elaborated with gold.
Some people even say that it’s much better than the historic opera houses in other parts of the world like in Vienna, Paris or Milan. Anyhow, you can get an audio guide to get an insight into its history and architecture when you come.
Building #7: Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
About a 4-minute walk from the La Fenice theater, we can find the most picturesque spiral staircase in Venice called Scala Contarini del Bovolo. This beautiful staircase is a part of Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, a small Palazo in the heart of Venice.
While Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo can’t let you see the Venice Grand Canal because it is located in the middle of a neighborhood, its 28-meter high tower will give you a 360-degree view of the Venetian skyline. The tower in Saint Mark’s square and the dome of Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute can be seen from the top of the Palazzo.
You can see the exact location of Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo from this link to Google Maps.
The Scala Contarini del Bovolo in Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo has been existing for five centuries now. However, its architecture was modified several times as the buildings’ ownership changed.
This is why if you go around the structure, you will find traces of old and late gothic architecture both inside and outside of the building.
Viewing the building from the southeast, you can find some old Gothic design flower decorations. The opposite side, however, features elegant late-Gothic architecture.
Scala Contarini del Bovolo has 80 steps externally outlined by white Istria stone arches.
In between each level are the red cotton bricks that splendidly contrast with the balustrades. Together they give the building a unique character and absolutely picturesque image not to be missed when visiting Venice.
Did you know that Scala Contarini del Bovolo has importance not only in architecture and cultural heritage? Believe it or not, it was used in science, as well as in modern entertainment.
Back then, Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo was used as a lodging house.
One of the guests of the palazzo was the German astronomer Wilhelm Tempel. On top of the palazzo’s tower, he discovered the comet C/1859 and the Merope Nebula of the Pleiades from his telescopic observations.
In 1952, however, An American director, actor, and screenwriter, Orson Welles, chose Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo as one of the main locations of his film, Shakespeare’s Othello.
It was in that movie that the elegant Scala Contarini del Bovolo was featured remarkably.
Building #8: Procuratie
Being the civic center of Venice for centuries, Saint Mark’s Square has become the culmination of Venetian architecture. Aside from Saint Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace, the Procuratie is certainly another building to behold from the city’s main square.
Procuratie is three connected buildings surrounding Saint Mark’s Square. Standing in the middle of Saint Mark’s Square, the building you’ll see facing north is called Procuratie Vecchie, Procuratie Nuovissime to the west, and Procuratie Nuove to the south.
You can find its exact location using this link to Google Maps.
The oldest of these three buildings is Procuratie Vecchie.
It has the simplest architecture yet the most picturesque of the three. The repeated Procuratie Vecchie’s arcades, windows, and pinnacles inhibit eye-pleasing elements of photography that make it a compelling subject.
View its facade straight perpendicular, and you’ll see the symmetry and harmonious proportion. Go to a vantage point with an angle with the building, and you’ll see it makes leading lines – an element of photography that makes photos fantastic.
Procuratie Vecchie and its opposite building, Procuratie Nuove, were constructed by the procurators of Saint Mark, the second-highest officials of the Republic of Venice. It was Venice’s first major public building in the 16-century with classical design (Veneto-Byzantine, updated with Renaissance).
Building #9: Santa Maria di Nazareth Church
The beds of the Venice Grand Canal are built with beautiful buildings.
Two of them are churches.
One is the Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute; another is Santa Maria di Nazareth Church. It is the church seat of the Discalced Carmelite’s religious order in Venice, and it is also called the Church of the Scalzi (Chiesa Degli Scalzi).
Santa Maria di Nazareth Church was built in the mid-17th-century by the Venetian architect Baldassarre Longhena, who also designed the beautiful church, Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute. You can find Santa Maria di Nazareth Church near Venezia Santa Lucia railway station in Cannaregio, the northern district of Venice.
See its exact location from this link to Google Maps.
This church isn’t as big as the city’s basilica.
However, similar to the larger churches in Venice, Santa Maria di Nazareth Church has interiors like no other. Its beauty is often underestimated, and it’s so sad that most people ignore it when visiting Venice.
The facade of Santa Maria di Nazareth Chuch does have a beautiful appearance too.
The bas relief below the beam, the capital of the paired columns, and the sculptures featured in the facade, give the church an “exquisite-look-first-impression.”
What’s inside the Santa Maria di Nazareth Church changes the conversation. Everywhere you look, there are spectacular religious artworks to behold. The left and right of the nave are altars with really vivid details.
The windows of Santa Maria di Nazareth Church are precisely positioned above or beside the altars to give them an angelic lighting effect.
Come during hours before or after noontime, and you might see some intense rays of light striking the elements of the altars.
The ceiling of the entire Santa Maria di Nazareth Church is painted with utterly beautiful frescoes.
There are also impressive murals on the church walls depicting different biblical stories. Statues of saints and angels are placed on the columns of the church.
The most impressive part of Santa Maria di Nazareth Church is the high altar designed by Fra Giuseppe Pozzo. The twisted columns around the tabernacle and the colossal golden crown above the statue of Mary are splendidly eye-catching.
The altars and frescoes inside the Santa Maria di Nazareth Church were made by Venice’s renowned artists like Ludovico David, Bernardo Falconi, Heinrich Meyring, and Giambattista Tiepolo.
Swipe the image below to see more views of Santa Maria di Nazareth Church’s interiors:
Building #10: Scuola Grande di San Marco
Last but not least of the 10 beautiful buildings in Venice is the Scuola Grande di San Marco, one of the city’s oldest buildings.
It was designed by talented architects of its time (Pietro Lombardo, Mauro Codussi, and Bartolomeo Bon) and was built in the latter half of the 13th century by Scuole Grandi of Venice.
Today, Scuola Grande di San Marco is now a medical museum located in Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo public square with Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo. It is one most awaited scenes when sailing along the Fondamenta dei Mendicanti canal in Venice.
You can find its exact location using this link to Google Maps.
The most significant part of Scuola Grande di San Marco is its facade, skillfully decorated with different techniques.
A technique used to it that made it unique among the buildings in Venice is Trompe-l’œil. From the bas relief featured on the facade’s lower parts, you can quickly notice it.
The facade of Scuola Grande di San Marco is also characterized by the exquisitely designed flat domes on top, embellished pilasters, and a beautiful tympanum above the main portal. You’ll love to photograph the marble statues and the sculptural relief on the edges and faces on some parts of the facade.
Map of the Most Beautiful Buildings in Venice (Walking Route)
Here is the map of Venice showing the location of each beautiful building from the list. I added a walking route you can use if you plan to visit them all.
Need help in exploring Venice? Here are tours and guides offered by GetYourGuide to make traveling in Venice easier and more convenient:
Where to go after Venice?
If you’re already in Venice, numerous beautiful places await you nearby in Italy. More historical sites and breathtaking destinations await in northern Italy (where you can find Venice).
From Venice, the closest destinations I recommend you visit are Verona (Good Reasons Why Verona Is Worth a Visit) and Lake Garda (10 Reasons Why Lake Garda Is Worth a Visit). You can reach these two places within 2 hours.
You can also go straight to the Italian Alps/Dolomites from Venice! The train ride to Bolzano (10 Reasons To Visit Bolzano), the Gateway to the Dolomites, is only 3.5 hours. You can also try visiting Trento (15 Worthy Things To Do in Trento), which is a 3-hour train ride from Venice.
From Trento/Bolzano, you can start your journey to Dolomite’s best attractions. The most spectacular attractions in the Dolomites surround the small town of Cortina d’Ampezzo (10 Beautiful Places Around Cortina d’Ampezzo).
You might also want to check:
- Lake Como — see beautiful villas beside the lake! (10 Best Places to Visit in Lake Como)
- Milan — its Cathedral is epic, overflowing with details. (10 Reasons To Visit Milan, Italy)
- Bergamo — a hidden gem of Lombardy! (10 Best Reasons Why You Must Go)
- Florence — go here if you love to see the best Renaissance art and architecture. (10 Beautiful Places To Visit)
- Rome — timeless beauty awaits you here. (10 Beautiful Landmarks To See)
- Cinque Terre — the most scenic coastal village in northern Italy! (10 Spots With The Best Views of Cinque Terre)
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