Things to see and do - Venice
Along The Grand Canal :
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Along The Grand Canal
Along The Grand CanalPedestrian, Other, 8 km, 1 day
The main artery and backbone of Venice, the Grand Canal weaves a reverse S shape along 3.8 km. Traveling its course by boat offers the best views of the palaces and churches built specifically shimmer in the water. This walk, that allows for breaks to visit some museums and monuments, is a delight.Customise this route and add it to My travel book
Begun by Baldassare Longhena and finished by Antonio Gaspari, this elegant palace with its ground-floor level ornamented with bossages and its large windows in the form of an arch, separated by a series of columns that lead out to a balcony, houses the Oriental Art Museum and the International Gallery of Modern Art.
It is perhaps the most beautiful palace in Venice! On the edge of the Grand Canal, it has magnificent stonework, like latticework, on its asymmetrical façade reflected on the water. True, it is no longer covered with the layer of gold paint that, in the 15C, earned it the nickname the "house of gold" by the Venetians, but what a harmonious place! Built at the beginning of the 15C by Lombard and Venetian artists for Mario Contarini, it was restored at the end of the 19C by baron Giorgio Franchetti who restored it to its original appearance (except, of course, for the painting by Jean Charlier), and moved in his collection, which you will be able to tour, and that is very varied, running from the 11 to the 18C. For many, the jewel of this collection is the Saint-Sébastien by Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506). You will also be able to admire the frescoes, unfortunately somewhat damaged, painted by Giorgione and Titian for the facade of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. A small painting by Tintoretto, landscapes by Francesco Guardi, a round painting by Jacopo del Sallaio and two Carpaccios will also catch your eye... if you are able to ignore the spell cast by the charm of the place itself, on the edge of the canal, with a terrace right on the water, from which you can watch the constant show put on by the Grand Canal.
The appropriately named Antonio Da Ponte ("ponte" means bridge in Italian) built this bridge in 1591, a bridge that attracts many visitors today. The structure standing today once substituted a wooden bridge known as the Coin Bridge, which succumbed to successive fires and collapses between 1175 and the 16th C. Andrea Palladio was approached to design a new bridge that would respect the small shops, reserved for financial and banking activities, and navigation; but his project for a three-arch bridge probably would have impeded traffic, so it wasn't built. The bridge has a single archway, 28 meters long and 7,50 meters above the Grand Canal. Its central staircase is lined with little shops that have since lost their original vocation, now fully dedicated to selling "souvenirs of Venice" (the worst you could possibly find!) and various postcards. In the center, the two wide archways covered with a slanted V-shaped roof lead to the narrower side stairs which are strategic spots for taking photos of the Grand Canal. You will have to fight your way with your elbows if you intend to get there! This elegant and emblematic bridge has the name of the old Venice (Rivoaltus, high river bank), and for a long period was the only link between the banks of the Grand Canal: it wasn't until the 19th C. that the Academia bridge and the bridge of the Carmelite Sisters.
At the beginning of the 20th C., Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (1861-1949), a Spanish painter, photographer, interior decorator and fabric creator, bought this 15th C. palace (which had belonged to the Pesaro family). It stands out for its two beautiful series of windows with seven bays each. In this palace you will be able to visit a museum dedicated to the works of art of the man himself, and in particular the delicate and refined fabrics that made his reputation.
The last palace designed by Baldassare Longhena, it was the home of a pope's family before the English poet Robert Browning (1812-1899) stayed there. Notice the first floor, richly ornamented with bossages, and other details of the particularly rich ornamentation of this palace that today houses the Museum of 18C Venice.
Neoclassical or not far from it, this is the last of the great Venetian palaces built before the fall of the Venetian Republic. It is the work of Giorgio Massari. Inside (which holds prestigious exhibitions), there is a staircase decorated by Alessandro Longhi, with characters wearing traditional Venetian white masks with the long nose ( la baùta).
Running from the Campo Santo Stefano to the Museum of the Academy and to the Zattere, this wooden bridge, which in the 30s replaced an older bridge made of iron, is especially attractive for those among you who really would rather not cross the Grand Canal standing up on a traghetto!
This is THE great museum of Venice, the one you must absolutely visit to discover a complete panoramic view of Venetian painting from the 14th C. to the 18th C.! It is installed within a group of buildings that make up the convent of the canons of Latran, the Church of Charity and the first scuola maggiore in Venice, the School o Charity. Among the strong points of this museum are the enigmatic Tempest by Giorgione, one of the paintings that have most intrigued art historians. You will also see the impressive Old lady by the same artist and a sweet Virgin with shrubs by Giovanni Bellini. The great Venetian masters of the 16th C. are represented by Veronese (in particular for the immense Supper with Levi,, the first of the great Supper scenes executed for convent refectories, and whose profane aspect shocked the Inquisition at the time), Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo... For its documentary value, you should notice the Procession at Saint Mark's Square, by Gentile Bellini and, above all, The Miracle of the relic of the true Cross, by Vittore Carpaccio: the has relegated the topic to a corner of the painting, which has become a pretext to paint the area surrounding the Rialto bridge with a great emphasis on detail: though the wooden bridge in the painting is not the same one you will see today, the rest of the area has hardly changed, and the countless individuals painted in it are a first-rate document about daily life in the Grand Canal area at the end of the 15th C.: not all that different from what it is today...
Niece of the American millionaire and collector Salomon Guggenheim, Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979) became the owner of the Venier dei Leoni Palace after the war, and lived there until her death, with her beloved babies, fierce little doggies buried in the palace's garden next to their mistress. The wife of Max Ernst, Peggy Guggenheim put together a fabulous collection of modern and contemporary art. There is only the very best, and each artist is represented by one or two paintings, which you probably are familiar with thanks to all the reproductions made of them! In the nicely shaded garden, in the back of the palace, are several sculptures: Richier, Zadkine, Marino Marini, Brancusi, Moore, Calder, among others. Paintings make up the best-known work of the Dada Movement and Surrealism: Ernst, Klee, Magritte, Dali, De Chirico, Miro, Picasso along with Braque, Mondrian, Kandinsky, Pollock, Balla and Vasarely. A delightful little terrace on the Grand Canal adds more charm to this divine place... So divine, you probably wouldn't mind being buried here yourself... not too soon, of course!
The Basilica of the Salute means health, the health hoped for by all Venetians when they raised this basilica in 1630 to ward off a plague epidemic. But it also represents the salvation of their souls, because you never know. Baldassare Longhena was placed at the head of the construction work to build this always venerated church, and especially so on the 21st of November, when Venetians commemorate the end of the epidemic. This imposing building crowned with an immense white dome topped by a statue of the Virgin, is even more impressive because of the gigantic staircase leading up to it and the multitude of statues that decorate the building's exterior. Dictated by the main cupola, the floor plan consists of a central area surrounded by six chapels. A polychrome marble floor leads to the center of the building, with five roses evocative of a rosary. The interior is solemn. The Mesoponditissa (an icon brought from Crete known as the Madonna of the Salvation) is the central piece, crowned with an allegorical group representing Venice freed from the Plague (by the Flemish artist Justin the Short), and the interior is strikingly cold. The Sacristy has several works of art: theatrical theme works Wedding of Cana by Tintoretto capture the attention of the visitors who should not miss the two works by Palma, the altarpieces by Luca Giordano and, on the ceiling, paintings by Titian that create a dramatic atmosphere.
This is the history of the Venetian Republic and perhaps also the history of its spirit, that offers itself up to you in this marvelous palace with, on Saint Mark's Square and on the pier, its marvelous arcades that could be compared with latticework made of stone. In the courtyard adorned with the Foscari portico, you will take the Staircase of Giants, which leads to the loggia. Then you will go though a series of different rooms of the ducal apartment, decorated with paintings (Carpaccio, Bellini, Tintoretto, Tiepolo, Titian...). The Hall of the Great Council is without any doubt the highlight of the visit: immense (1 300 m2), it once kept the ballots that eventually concluded in the nomination of a new doge. What is there to say but that you will once again be in awe by the magnificence of the place, both for its wall decoration and the ceilings: this is where you will see the huge Paradise painted by Tintoretto and, in the form of a frieze, the portraits of the 76 doges that governed the city between 804 and 1554, among which that of the infamous Marino Falier, covered with a painted drape as eternal punishment for his crimes, to complement his beheading. Ready for a thrill? Move on to visit the prisons that you will get to via the famous Bridge of Sighs. But if you really want to find out about the secrets of Venice, you should visit the "secret itineraries": a torture room that will make you shiver, prison cells ("wells", both cold and humid, and "leadings" located under the roof, from where Casanova managed to escape), secret passages, hidden hallways, the hall of the Inquisitors: just the opposite of everything you have seen so far in Venice!
Its five domes outlined in the sky, its facade interrupted by a terrace with balustrade ornamented by a group of bronze horses, the mosaics on its portals showing the story of the return of Saint Mark's body to Venice, offer a spectacular vision that you will have all the time to admire if you just stand at the tail of the line of visitors that sometimes extends to the other end of the square. Don't be discouraged by the wait, as you must not miss the inside of the basilica. Even the least interested among you will be left in awe of the place! The first impression you get is oddly oriental. The magnificent marble floor contributes to this effect. But most of all it is the sumptuous golden mosaics that literally cover the entire building and illuminate the whole place, especially on a sunny day! You might not have the time to interpret the scenes from the New Testament, but in the end it doesn't really matter: the whole is spectacular! Under the entrance porch, a staircase leads to the gallery and the Saint Mark's Museum - do go upstairs! From there you will get a panoramic view of the interior of the basilica and, from the outside gallery, you will get a sumptuous view of the city and Piazza San Marco. In the museum you attention will turn, without any doubt, towards the bronze horses. They were brought to Venice as part of the spoils of the 4th Crusade. But they actually date from way before that time, and they will impress you with their extraordinary aliveness.
There are two adjacent squares: the piazza itself, an immense rectangle measuring 176 m long and 82 wide, and the piazzetta ("little square") that opens out from the corner of the bell tower, towards the vast basin of the lagoon, called the Saint Mark basin, on which vaporetti and gondolas circulate among an incessant traffic, while in the distance you'll see larger vessels slowly marching by. Here you are at the epicenter of Venice: pigeons and tourists rushing about incessantly, the latter forming the most amazing lines to visit the basilica or the bell tower... This vast open space surrounded by the colonnades of the Old and New Palaces of the Magistrates, tied together by the Napoleonic wing, under which are legendary cafes (Quadri and Florian) where are night you will find orchestras performing Viennese waltzes and Italian pieces, offer a beautifully theatrical composition. The superb facade of the Saint Mark Basilica with its loggia, its lively horses, and the gold bits in the mosaics that shine in the bright sun, the tall silhouette of the bell tower, the stone latticework of the façade of the Palace of the Doges, all along the piazzetta to the quay, make of this place built on the old vegetable garden of the neighboring Monastery of Saint Zachary, a miracle of architecture, of colors and of light, that you will come back to again and again during your stay in Venice, whether you want to or not.