Of all the world’s travel destinations, Venice rates among the top three places where people want to go. The reason is simple: it is one of the most beautiful places on earth that fills up all of one’s senses, the ageless beauty of the churches, palaces and buildings, the old-world ambience. More to the point, Venice is a total feast for the eyes.
Stretched along the Adriatic Sea, Venice is a unique group of 117 small islands joined together by 378 stone bridges over a number of canals. It has the unique mode of transportation, which is mostly on water.
The city is composed of six districts (sestiere), all with their own unique attractions: Cannaregio, San Polo, Santa Croce, San Marco, Dorsoduro and Castello.
Cannaregio in the north has the Palazzo Labia, the Venetian Ghetto, and the Isola di San Michele. Palazzo Labia is a beautiful 7th century baroque palace. The Venetian Ghetto is the center of Jewish living where Jews go for religious services. The Isola di San Michele is the cemetery island where some famous writers and musicians are buried.
San Polo is the smallest and the oldest, housing the famous Rialto Bridge, the San Giacomo di Rialto and the Campo San Polo. The Rialto Bridge is the largest of the four bridges connecting the Grand Canal in places. The San Giacomo di Rialto is the oldest church in Venice, built in 421 A.D. The Campo San Polo is the biggest field in the city and is very popular for the Carnival in Venice, concerts and screenings for the Venice Film Festival.
Santa Croce is in the northwest with the Tronchetto and the main port. The main attractions are the Fondaco dei Turchi (a 13th century Byzantine palazzo) and the Church of San Giacomo dell’Orio.
San Marco is the center of the sestiere. This is where the well-known sites of Venice are found: Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. St. Mark’s Basilica is a Byzantine cathedral, originally the chapel of the Venetian rulers. The Doge’s Palace is a Gothic structure and home of the Doge of Venice, the formal head of state. It is now a museum housing some priceless paintings of Veronese and Tintoretto.
Dorsoduro in the south is the highest sestiere, with attractions that include the Penny Guggenheim collection (a museum containing personal art collections) and San Trovaso, the church built in 1028 which houses the works of Tintoretto.
Carnivals and festivals
Redentore is a festival held every third Saturday of July celebrating the end of the Plague, and is famous for its fireworks.
Every February and March, Venice holds its famous Carnival which dates back to the year 1268. Locals and tourists gather in the streets wearing historical costumes and masks, with music played all day in most places, and some street performances.
Another famous event is the annual Venice International Film Festival founded in 1932 and is the oldest in the world. It is highlighted with international film celebrities who gather in late August or early September in the island of Lido to present their latest films.
Indeed, the whole of Venice is a visual indulgence that one can never tire of. And we have not even mentioned a word yet about the masks, the shops, the food, the gondola, the gondoliers, the impromptu singing and the music.