Venice Architecture City Guide: 15 Historical and Contemporary Attractions to Discover in Italy’s City of Canals

Venice, Italy - Piazza San Marco. Image © Bertl123 via Shutterstock

Venice, Italy – Piazza San Marco. Image © Bertl123 via Shutterstock

Built on a cluster of 118 small islands in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, the city of Venice, Italy, has captivated the imagination of architects and tourists alike. The area has been inhabited since ancient times, becoming a major financial and maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, as proven through the rich architecture that characterizes the city to this day. With influences from the Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance styles, the city represents a palimpsest of architectural narratives, overlapping and influencing each other. In recent years, Venice has become a major attraction for architects drawn to the La Biennale di Venezia, the most important Architectural Exhibition featuring national pavilions, exhibitions, and events to explore new concepts and architectural innovations.

Beyond the Biennale, Venice itself is an open-air museum for architecture lovers. While the city is best known for its historical buildings, Modernist and contemporary interventions add a new layer of interest, with many contemporary architects working with the historical fabric, like OMA’s intervention and rehabilitation of Fondaco dei Tedeschi, or David Chipperfield’s renovation of Procuratie Vecchie, one of the buildings that define Piazza San Marco. In addition to what the city has to offer, the site of the Venice Biennale is also marked by interventions by famous architects such as Carlo Scarpa, Sverre Fehn, and Alvar Aalto, made permanent due to their outstanding qualities.

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