Santa Croce district in Venice has plenty of things to do.
It is also one of the areas closest to your arrival point in Venice. In fact, it is the only district where you can actually see cars! You can come here from many different points: from Piazzale Roma and you'll be already there. From Santa Lucia train station and you'll just have to cross the Ponte degli Scalzi. Finally, you can park in Tronchetto or arrive there by boat and you'll already be in Santa Croce!
Most of the tourists and visitors do not know how many things you can do and visit in the Santa Croce district and they just go through it in order to reach Saint Mark's square as soon as possible.
In this article, however, we'll discover the many activities you can do in Santa Croce, Venice, in order that, next time you'll be here, you will decide to explore it properly!
What to do in Santa Croce district in Venice
The Sestiere of Santa Croce (Sestiere is actually the name of the six districts of the city) is located in the western part of Venice.
It includes the artificial island of Tronchetto, close to Ponte della Libertà, and it is embraced by Cannaregio district to the North, San Polo to the East and Dorsoduro to the South. Here you can find some important bridges that cross the Grand Canal: the Constitution bridge (or Calatrava) and the Scalzi bridge.
Most of the time, Santa Croce and San Polo are confused because they all together form a great area in the heart of Venice, surrounded by the Grand Canal.
What will you do in the district of Santa Croce? Let's find out here.
1. Visit the Churches of Santa Croce district in Venice
The most famous ones are the Churches of San Giacomo dall'Orio and the Church of San Stae.
The first one is located in front of the lively square (actually a Campo) of the same name and it is said to be one of the oldest churches of Venice. The interior has a clear Gothic style and is characterized by the precious trefoil ceiling in the shape of a ship's keel: it's a true masterpiece of Venetian Gothic masters.
The second one, the Church of San Stae, also is located in the Campo of the same name. The facade is Baroque and looks at the Grand Canal. Inside the Church, to the right, you can see the Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew by Giambattista Tiepolo.
2. Explore the many Museums of the Santa Croce Sestiere
Continuing our tour, we definitely need to stop at the Modern Art Museum.
This international gallery is hosted inside the magnificent Cà Pesaro, a palace that faces the Grand Canal. Even if you are not interested in modern art collections, you should come here just to admire the elegance and sumptuousness of the palace.
Not to mention, that here in Santa Croce there is also the Oriental Art Museum.
It's hosted on the third floor of Cà Pesaro and it shows a collection of almost 30 thousands artworks from ancient Japan, China and Korea.
Another popular museum is the Natural History Museum.
It is located inside the magnificent Fondaco dei Turchi, in front of the Grand Canal. Inside the museum, you can see the Cetacean Gallery, the Aquarium that reconstructs the marine environment of the Upper Adriatic Sea, as well as numerous fossils and an almost intact dinosaur skeleton.
Lastly, Palazzo Mocenigo.
If you are interested in knowing more about the history of Textile, Costume and Perfume, we recommend that you go there. Starting with the rich reception hall, you continue your visit with the clothing, decorations and accessories of the XVII and XVIII centuries. There are even perfumes you can smell test!
3. Relax in the public gardens of Santa Croce district
One of the biggest public gardens in Venice is very close to Piazzale Roma and its bus station.
It's called the Papadopoli Gardens and it occupies an area of more than 8.800 square meters where once stood the monastery of Santa Croce, the ancient religious complex that gave its name to the entire district.
The monastery, as many others in Venice, was closed during the Napoleonic suppressions and reduced to civilian use. A few years later, the religious complex was demolished along with other buildings to make way for the beautiful park.
4. Visit the locations that have inspired many novelists
Among the most famous novelists and artists that have been inspired by the cozy streets and elegant palaces of the Santa Croce district, there are Gabriele D’Annunzio and Henry James.
D'Annunzio was inspired by the gardens of Palazzo Gradenigo. Here he designed many scenes of his novel Il Fuoco; Henry James, instead, was inspired by the Palazzo Soranzo Cappello for his short story The Aspern Papers.
So, next time you are in Venice, don't forget to explore the Santa Croce sestiere on your way to Rialto and San Marco!
This area could be less touristy than others but it is actually full of attractions and things to do!