Basilica San Marco

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St Mark Square

Venice - St Mark Square  -  piazza
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The Piazza San Marco is one of the most famous squares in the world. The elegant space has been used for the political, religious and commercial life of Venice for hundreds of years.

The square is composed of several buildings with different types of architecture, all of them boasting a rich past. First is the Basilica of Saint Mark, built in the Byzantine style in 828 to contain the mummy of Saint Mark. This basilica is a good example of the connections that existed between Venice and Constantinople. Next to the basilica is Saint Mark’s Campanile, one of the most symbolic monuments of Venice, its recognizable shape visible from quite a distance away. This huge tower of 96 meters collapsed in 1902 but was rebuilt exactly as it was. It is possible to reach its summit and enjoy a breathtaking view over the Piazza San Marco and the rest of Venice.

Near the entrance of the campanile is the Logetta, made by Sansovini in 1540. It was first a meeting room for the Venetian aristocracy then later became a room for the guards of the Doges’ Palace. The clock tower is an interesting early Renaissance building worth admiring while exploring the square.

Things to see

The Palazzo Ducale, facing both the piazzetta and the water, is a symbol of the power the Republic of Venice once held. It was the political center of the Doge as well as his living quarters. Interestingly, the Doge’s Palace is full of secret passages which allowed people to go between several bedrooms and offices.

The columns of San Marco and San Todaro on the quay frame the main entrance into the square for people coming from the sea. The two columns of granite were brought from Constantinople in 1172. The column of San Todaro honors the homonym figure, who was the first patron saint of Venice before the body of Saint Mark was stolen from Egypt by two Venetian merchants and brought to the city in the 9th century. These columns were once the place where people were executed; to this day, some Venetians refuse to walk between the two columns as they believe it would bring bad luck