Known as “The City of Water”, Venice is a city consisting of 118 small islands separated by canals and connected by bridges. The city and its lagoon were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. For years, it has been a popular unusual tourist destination in Venice. Celebrated for its art and architecture, Venice is highly regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. If you find yourself in Venice just for a short weekend getaway or as a pit-stop in a grand tour of Italy, here are some suggestions of unusual place in Venice to see:
Unusual Places to Visit in Venice France
1. Ca’ Rezzonico
Just like the Ca’ d’Oro, also the Ca’ Rezzonico is located right on the Grand Canal, fiercely standing with its regal figure. Built-in the 17th century in Baroque style, the Ca’ Rezzonico is one of the finest and most visited unusual places in Venice. In 1751 it was bought by the Rezzonico, a noble Venetian family, who involved the best painters working in Venice to adorn the palace with frescoes and decorations. Over the centuries, the residence was owned by famous people such as the English poet Robert Browning that spent the last years of his life.
Today the Ca’ Rezzonico houses the Museum of 18th Century Venice and is part of the Venetian Civic Museums. The museum is definitely worth a visit, as you can admire a large collection of sculptures and paintings from the greatest artists of the 18th century. But apart from that, the building itself is a pleasure to explore, through its different halls, ancient furniture and ceiling frescoes.
2. Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable
This stunning unusual show by British artist Damien Hirst spans two palazzos at the Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, and if you miss Hirst, then these venues have exhibitions throughout the year. Devoted to the story that frames the show, the entire exhibition is a single body of work. The sculptures are treasures apparently salvaged from a shipwreck 2000 years ago. The collection belonged to a freed slave, Cif Amotan II, who was sending his art to a temple on board the ‘Unbelievable’, according to Hirst’s legend.
3. Scuola Grande di San Marco
Founded in 1260 for humanitarian purposes, the Scuola Grande di San Marco was the most influential and wealthy of the six Venetian confraternities, which are Catholic organizations that played an important role in the religious and social life of Venice. Originally housed in a Gothic building that burned to the ground in the 15th century, the Scuola Grande di San Marco was transferred in 1437 where it stands today (right beside the Church of San Giovanni e Paolo), although the construction of this unusual place in Venice to see was completed only in 1480. On the second floor, the building houses the Museum of the History of Medicine and the historic Library of Medicine: open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9:30 to 17:00.
4. St Mark’s Basilica
The basilica marks the unusual site of the Pentecost mosaic that appears in the first ARKANE book, Stone of Fire. Look up and you will see the tongues of fire coming down onto the apostles. The basilica also houses the treasury where you’ll find a collection of reliquaries. They contain the bones of various saints. You have seen many bizarre religious relics but these reliquaries are something else. Made of gold and crystal, the reliquaries themselves are beautiful. It costs a little extra to see, but it’s one of the more unusual places to see in Venice.
5. Contarini del Bovolo Palace
This lesser-known Venice attraction, hidden in the maze of alleys and canals, is a splendid architectural example of a mixture between Renaissance, Gothic and Byzantine style. Located near the area of Campo Manin, this delightful palace was built in 1499 by architect Giovanni Candi as one of the residences of the Contarini family. This most visited unusual place in Venice is most famous for its external spiral staircase, adorned by open crystal white arches and thin columns, leaning on the façade. Similar to sort of cylindrical tower, the stairs lead to an arcade, providing a breathtaking panoramic view over the picturesque rooftops of the city.
6. Lazzaretto Nuovo
As industrial outposts or mental hospitals, the Venetian authorities didn’t just use the islands. They also used them as quarantine spaces for plague victims. In 1423, the Lazzaretto Vecchio (Old Quarantine) opened as a plague hospital, as well as a quarantine zone. The Lazzaretto Nuovo (or New Quarantine) opened as a way station for incoming ships in 1468. During plague outbreaks in 1576 and 1630, thousands of people were sent to the islands which explain the mass graves on both islands.
This one of the strangest places in Venice gained its supernatural reputation after a skull was discovered in a mass plague grave in 2005. The woman’s skull had a brick jammed in her mouth, which ties in with old superstitions around killing vampires.
7. Ca’ d’Oro (Santa Sofia Palace)
Originally known as Palazzo Santa Sofia, this hidden treasure is one of the older and most marvelous of all the palaces lined with the Grand Canal. This strange place to visit in Venice has been commonly known as Ca’ d’Oro (House of gold) due to the golden decorations that once adorned its façade. Today, the Ca’ d’Oro is open to the public, and it houses a vast art gallery featuring masterpieces by the greatest Venetian artists, such as Carpaccio, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, as well as a number of other non-Venetian artists. If you are in Venice, we strongly recommend paying a visit to this amazing place, even from a boat tour of the Grand Canal.
8. Marco Polo’s House
Marco Polo can be considered as the world’s best-known Venetian and perhaps the most famous explorer of all time who was born in Venice in 1254 into a family of merchants. In 1271 he departed to Beijing with his uncle Matteo and his father Niccolò, to meet the Emperor of China. His trip lasted over 24 years, and although his return was celebrated and honored, in 1298 he was made prisoner by the Genoese army. The chronicle of his journey became a book known as “The Million”, in which Marco Polo described his journey to the East and the stay in China, astonishing the world at that time.
9. The Flooded Crypt of San Zaccaria
Speaking of flooding, the San Zaccaria church has used the surrounding canals to its advantage. This unique place has occupied the site since the 9th century though the current incarnation was established in the 15th century. That said, the undercroft mostly contains the bodies of local leaders (or doges) from the earlier period. The main church is breathtaking too, but this quiet crypt is one of the more weird places to see in Venice. If you’d like to visit, use the entrance in the Campo San Zaccaria, and turn right.
10. Libreria Acqua Alta
One of the most original bookshops in the world is located in the center of Venice. The Libreria Acqua Alta is definitely the only unusual place in Venice as well as earth where you will find a huge selection of books, new and used, arranged in those kinds of shelves: boats, gondolas, canoes, bathtubs and everywhere it is possible to insert them. And the books are not just to buy but some of them have been transformed into veritable objects of furniture. The old encyclopedias, those whom nobody buys anymore, can become steps to an amazing staircase, or cover the walls of the outer courts, transforming them into colorful surfaces. To complete the furnishings are also poles, oars, dummies.
11. San Servolo Insane Asylum Museum
Opened in 1725, San Servolo is known as the “Island of the Mad”. and acted as the city’s official mental asylum for 250 years. Including the Laboratory, Straightjackets, and the Anatomical Theatre, the museum is divided into nine sections. , The archives also hold photo albums and library collections as well as housing disused equipment. You would love to see here the rare trees and plants in the park which originally provided ingredients for the pharmacy. This one of the weirdest places in Venice puts a public face on the history of mental illness in Venice. Another abandoned asylum quietly rots on Poveglia Island, which is currently closed to visitors.
Located at the northern end of the Venetian lagoon is Burano, a fisherman’s island with undeniable charm. Marked by the multi-colored houses that line the island’s canals, this bizarre place to visit in Venice is a fantastic getaway from the swathes of tourists that throng the squares, waterways, and cobbled streets of Venice. Lace is formed here, and while little of what’s sold here anymore is authentically Buranese, Burano does boast a superb Lace museum, Museo del Merletto.
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