Venice

City, sovereign state, tourist hub, living museum... whatever your impression of Venice, this place continues to defy all logic.

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This audacious medieval masterpiece, perilously perched in the Adriatic lagoon, boasts some of the world's finest art and architecture. The City of Love almost sinks under the weight of its incredible past, yet stands tall as a fascinating window into a bygone age.

Essential Sights

St Mark's Basilica St Mark's Basilica is one of the world's iconic cathedrals. The 8,000sq m masterpiece dates to the 10th century, when the existing design --with its Byzantine domes, marble-clad walls and Greek cross layout - was drawn up. Notable for its beautiful façade mosaics, the structure is a stunning sight at all times of the day. Either join a tour or enter freely to attend mass through the north-facing Porta dei Fiori.

Doge's Palace For many centuries, the Doge's Palace served as the main residence for the ruler of the Republic of Venice. The building features Gothic, Renaissance and Mannerist wings, which were constructed between 1340 and 1565. The palace was converted to a museum in 1923, giving visitors a first opportunity to view its dazzling interior.

Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge The bustling Grand Canal, which stretches over two miles (3.8km) from Santa Lucia railway station to St Mark's Square, is Venice's major thoroughfare. The busy waterway winds its way through the city, linking the main tourist hub in the south with onward transport connections. You can explore the canal by water bus or gondola, taking in sights including the famous Rialto Bridge, which connects the sestieri of San Marco and San Polo.

Murano and Burano Out in the lagoon, to the northeast of the city, the pretty islands of Murano and Burano offer unique curiosities. Murano, the closer of the two to Venice, has a centuries-old glass-making tradition, which you can explore at its notable museum, craft centres and shops selling local wares. Burano is famed for its kaleidoscopic fishermen's houses and the perilously leaning Chiesa di San Martino bell tower.