Top choice in Venice

Founded in 1104, the Arsenale soon became the greatest medieval shipyard in Europe, home to 300 shipping companies employing up to 16,000 people. Capable of turning out a new galley in a day, it is considered a forerunner of mass industrial production. Access is only possible during major events and exhibitions such as Carnival, the Arte Laguna Prize and the art and architecture Biennale, when it forms an awesome backdrop to international exhibitions.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Venice attractions

1. Padiglione delle Navi

0.13 MILES

The Padiglione delle Navi is a vast 2000-sq-metre warehouse containing a fabulous collection of model historic boats, including typical Venetian luggers,…

2. Porta Magna

0.15 MILES

Capped by the lion of St Mark, the Arsenale’s land gate is considered by many to be the earliest example of Renaissance architecture in Venice; it was…

3. Garibaldi Monument

0.15 MILES

Positioned at the top of the public gardens, this statue of Italian Unification hero Giuseppe Garibaldi has him commanding a mountain with a tame-looking…

4. Museo Storico Navale

0.17 MILES

Maritime madness spans 42 rooms at this museum of naval history, featuring scale models of Venetian-built vessels as well as Peggy Guggenheim's not-so…

5. Chiesa di San Martino


Designed by Sansovino, the neighbourhood church of St Martin has a Greek-cross-shaped interior lined with eight chapels and topped by a trompe l'œil…

6. Serra dei Giardini

0.26 MILES

This attractive iron-framed greenhouse was built in 1894 to house the palms used in Biennale events. It rapidly expanded into a social hub and a centre…

7. Sotoportego dei Preti

0.28 MILES

Under the arch of this covered passageway is hidden a reddish, heart-shaped stone about the size of a hand. Local lore has it that couples that touch it…