Venice is one of the most romantic cities in Europe and also one of the most unique, with its winding and intricate canals blending into the city's general infrastructure.
Venice's gondolas, bridges, squares, cathedrals and Gothic architecture all help to form an image far-removed from other more conventional European destinations.
Venice is situated in northern Italy on a group of 118 islands, giving the city its distinctive nature. The Piave and Po rivers empty out into the famous Venetian Lagoon which then meanders through the canals of Venice; the Grand Canal is the main artery running through the centre of the city.
Gondolas transport tourists around the canal ways, and famous crossings like the Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs were built to aid a citizen's passage through the city's boroughs.
It is easy to see how powerful Venice was in the Middle Ages as an independent city state and it is clear that the locals - the 'Veneti' - have a proud heritage. Venice was once an important maritime trading post due to its access to the Adriatic. The city would play a central role in renaissance art and Venice has left an impressive legacy in the world of classical music due to citizens like Vivaldi.
Venice has been a worthy muse for many writers, artists and playwrights. Shakespeare wrote the 'Merchant of Venice' based in the city, and Thomas Mann was inspired by the intricate and atmospheric streets to write 'Death in Venice'. Film lovers and those concerned with more recent art forms will perhaps be aware of the city's character through films like Nicolas Roeg's 'Don't Look Now' which uses Venice's gloomy gothic leanings and narrow streets to create an intensely claustrophobic atmosphere.
Burano is a popular detour for those wishing to make a boat trip, but back in the city centre people are drawn to St Mark's Square and buildings such as the Palazzo Ducale which forms part of the square's perimeter. St Mark's Basilica is the undoubted centrepiece and a true European architectural treasure.
The attractions can be very busy in the summer months and many visitors will choose to visit Venice in the spring time when there is much more of an air of calm about the city, yet the temperatures are still often relatively warm.
Last updated: 14 March 2014