Italy is the 5th most visited country in the world and close to fifty million people visit this beautiful destination every year. This is a fascinating country and it has some stunning examples of historic and modern architecture. Here are 5 magnificent buildings to see in Italy. There may be a dress code to enter some of them so make sure you do some research before visiting these stunning sites.

St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice

St. Mark’s Basilica was built in the 11th century.  It is currently the church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice and is one of the best examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. It is filled with stunning mosaics that are done mostly in gold. There are many treasures on display that were acquired during The Crusades. The bell tower collapsed in 1902 and it took nine years to rebuild. The square in front of it frequently floods and this stunning domed building is perfectly reflected in the puddle.

Piazza del Duomo, Florence

There are so many beautiful buildings in Florence but one of the most beautiful is the Gothic architecture of Piazza del Duomo. It was named in honour of Santa Maria del Fiore and this stunning building took two centuries to complete. The outside of the building is covered in pink, green, and white marble and it has a large dome that was designed by Filippo Brunellesch. The interior has a stunning floor that is made from mosaics in different colours. There is no entrance fee to enter this stunning cathedral and the queues to enter can be quite long. If you are visiting Florence you should also be sure to explore other areas of Tuscany,  where you can stay in rustic farmhouses and villas, and experience authentic rural Italian life.

Church of San Vitale

The Church of San Vitale is located in the province of Ravenna and it considered the best example of early Christian Byzantine architecture in Europe. It was constructed in the 6th century site of the martyrdom of St. Vitalis. The interior of this small church is breathtaking. The walls and ceilings are covered in numerous examples of beautiful Byzantine mosaic murals.

St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica is a stunning Italian Renaissance church that is located inside of the Vatican City. It is the largest church in the world and the dome is one of the prominent features of Rome’s skyline at 136.6 m high. The inside of the building is stunning and it is decorated with marble, gold leaf, reliefs, and architectural sculpture. Taking a tour of St Peter’s Basilica is definitely worthwhile, there are many chapels and tombs within the structure which will be even more impressive when you find out their history. There are many glorious pieces of artwork to visit, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time.

The Sistine Chapel 

The Sistine Chapel is one of the chapels located inside of the Apostolic Palace and it is one of the most wondrous sights in Vatican City, Rome. Millions of people visit the chapel each year to see the frescoed ceiling that was painted by Michelangelo in the early 16th century. The ceiling took him four years to complete and it is considered one of his greatest achievements. The Sistine Chapel continues to play an important function today and it is used to broadcast the results of the pope’s election through smoke. One of the best ways to view the chapel is to join a night tour where you can have thirty minutes inside after closing time. Once you’ve seen everything there is to see in Rome, here are some great ideas for excursions.