Venice, Italy, is one of the most-desired travel destinations in Europe and the world. It has an intricate past with pieces of history and culture found on every city street. Yet, one of the best ways to explore the city’s heritage is to tour its remarkable palaces. We take a look through the top 10 Palazzos that should be on every intrepid traveler’s list during a visit to the city of Venice.
Palazzo Ducale or the Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s Palace is the symbol of Venice, echoing the city’s immense historical and political past. This stunning building was the seat for many Doges of the Venetian Republic. The 14th-century palazzo is a masterpiece of Venetian architecture designed by Filippo Calendario and renovated over time by several renowned architects. Its primary style is Venetian Gothic, yet it also features Renaissance and Byzantine elements. The phenomenal exterior boasts many sculptures representing saints and historical events so precious to the Venetians.
Visitors can see works of artists like Jacopo Sansovino and the duo of Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bon. Meanwhile, the interior of the Doge’s Palace is an incredible museum with fantastic architecture and art, including paintings by Tintoretto, Bellini, Palma the Younger, Titian, and Veronese.
Ca’ d’Oro, known as Palazzo Santa Sofia or the House of Gold, is a beautiful palace on the Grand Canal in Venice. The palace was built in 1428-1430 by Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bon on the commission of Marino Contarini. The Gothic-style building has a turbulent history, with some former owners like Maria Taglioni who destroyed certain aspects of the palace’s heritage. Today, the palazzo is home to the Giorgio Franchetti Gallery, named after the Baron who restored the building. Ca’ d’Oro offers visitors a glance at many sculptures, paintings, and photographs by some of the most famous Venetian artists.
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Palazzo Grassi is an 18th-century palace in the San Marco district overlooking the Grand Canal. The architect behind it was Giorgio Massari, also known for designing Ca’ Rezzonico, another significant Venetian sight. Today, it belongs to Francois Pinault, the owner of the famous Venice modern art museum Punta della Dogana. He commissioned the 21st-century renovation to the Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The remodeled palace works as an exhibition space and a theater used for concerts, performances, and other cultural events.
Ca’ Pesaro is a 17th-century palace housing an Oriental Art Museum and the International Gallery of Modern Art. The architectural design of the palace belonged to Baldassare Longhena, and its construction took almost 60 years. After the Pesaro family, the building belonged to a few other noble Venetian families like Gradenigo and Bevilacqua. The Ca’ Pesaro Gallery opened in 1897 and now presents the finest artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. They include Gustave Klimt, Henri Matisse, Wassily Kandinsky, and many others. The Oriental Art Museum, located on the third floor of the palace, features a collection of over 30 thousand objects from various parts of Asia.
One of the most fascinating palaces of Venice is the Palazzo Grimani. The Grimani family was one of the best-known noble families in Venice. They built the palace in the 16th century to serve as their residence, showcasing their wealth and importance. The Doge Antonio Grimani passed on the Renaissance palazzo to his grandsons, Vettore and Giovanni. The latter created a fine collection of various antique items, which became the foundation of the National Archaeological Museum of Venice. Today, the palace has many rooms to explore, each home to valuable artworks and furnishings. These include frescoes by Federico Zuccari and Camillo Mantovano and paintings by Veronese.
Visiting Ca’ Rezzonico is a perfect way to get a glimpse into the life and culture of Venetians in the 18th century. This palazzo, standing alongside the Grand Canal, is an exceptional example of the Venetian Baroque and Rococo architecture performed by Baldassarre Longhena. Inside the palace is the Museum of 18th-century Venice. The museum offers a compelling collection of furniture, sculptures, and paintings characteristic of the time. Some artwork belongs to artists like Tintoretto, Canaletto, Tiepolo, and Pietro Longhi.
Palazzo Mocenigo once belonged to the Mocenigo family, one of the best-known aristocratic families of the Venetian Republic. Initially, the building emerged in the 16th century but received its current look only a century later. Many famous people, including Lord Byron, were among the guests staying at the palace. Today, it is home to the Study Centre for the History of Textiles, Costumes and Perfume, a.k.a. the Fashion Museum of Venice. The museum’s display gives visitors a chance to learn about Venice’s history, art, and culture over several centuries through fashion. It is a comprehensive collection of textiles, designer costumes, and perfumes.
Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo is a historical 15th-century palace known for its marvelous spiral staircase. It is a unique sight and an extraordinary example of Renaissance engineering. After climbing the famous staircase, visitors enter the building’s rooftop, which opens an exceptional view of Venice. In addition to beautiful views and striking architecture, the palazzo features an art gallery with paintings by renowned Venetian artists from the 16th to the 18th centuries.
Fondazione Querini Stampalia
One of the best places to learn about the history and culture of Venice is Fondazione Querini Stampalia. The palace, once a residence of the Querini family, is not far from St. Mark’s Square. In addition to a display of furniture and other items typical for the 18th-century noble residence, it is a genuine cultural institution. The palace is home to an art gallery and an astonishing library with over 350 thousand books. This art gallery boasts masterpieces by Bellini, Veronese, Titian, and many other famous artists. Because of the library and regular cultural events held at the palace, it is a favorite for many students based in Venice.
Ca’ Vendramin Calergi
Ca’ Vendramin Calergi is a historical 15th-century Venetian palazzo, home to the Venice Casino and the Wagner Museum. The palace belonged to the Loredan family, who commissioned it to the architect Mauro Codussi. The palace’s name, however, derives from its consecutive owners, Vittore Calergi and the Vendramin family. In the 19th century, Ca’ Vendramin Calergi hosted Richard Wagner and his family. The famous composer died in the building, part of which now functions as the Wagner Museum, offering a collection of memorabilia related to his life and work.