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Venice is known for the Gothic facades lining its canals, but don't miss heading inside for equally sumptuous interiors. Many of these historic palaces now house museums, so it's easy to take in the beauty of the buildings while also visiting their collections. Here are six of Venice’s most remarkable palace museums.
The massive Gothic masterpiece adjacent St. Mark’s Basilica is one of the city's most popular attractions. After being built in the 14th century, it was the residence of the ruling Doge and seat of Venetian government for centuries. A visit to the symbol of Venice offers up richly decorated halls, a dour prison, and Bridge of Sighs. Be sure to book a tour with skip-the-line tickets, or spend hours waiting to get in.
Just across the square from Doge’s Palace, this opulent museum is home to an extensive collection dedicated to Venetian art and history. Take in its sculptures, paintings, documents, and other artifacts displayed in neoclassical and Imperial halls with a single ticket that also includes entrance to Doge’s Palace, National Archaeological Museum, and Marciana National Library.
Savor masterpieces by Venetian artists such as Titian, Canaletto, Giambattista Tiepolo, and Paolo Veronese in the ornate former Scuola della Carità set directly on the Grand Canal. The gallery houses Venetian paintings from the 14th century to the 18th century, as well as Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.
Arguably the most magnificent of all the palaces lining the Grand Canal, this example of Venetian baroque and rococo architecture is decorated with frescoes and trompe l’oeil by Venetian masters and houses the Museum of 18th-Century Venice with paintings by Canaletto, Tintoretto, and others.
Also set along the Grand Canal, this 18th-century palace houses two museums under its painted ceilings. The International Gallery of Modern Art (Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna) has works by some of Italy’s most influential modern artists such as De Chirico, De Pisis, and Sironi, as well as international heavy-hitters such as Kandinsky and Magritte. Upstairs, the Museum of Oriental Art (Museo d’Arte Orientale) is home to Prince Enrico di Borbone’s vast collection of works primarily from the Edo era.
One of Venice’s most prestigious museums is dedicated to the masters of 20th-century art. Amassed by the influential American art collector and heiress for which it is named, this collection displays works by Picasso, Pollock, Kandinsky, Magritte, Dalí, and Calder in Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, which was Guggenheim’s Venetian pied à terre in the final decades of her life.