St. Mark's Square

St. Mark's Square: At a Glance

Being the largest expanse of dry land in the otherwise water-bound city, St. Mark's Square Venice has always been a favorite among those seeking to experience the real Venice. This piazza has been the hub of activity since the days of the early Republic, when it served as a marketplace and focal point for civic, religious, and political life. Piazza San Marco, one of the world's most beautiful public spaces, is undoubtedly the best thing to see in Venice. On three sides of the plaza are the majestic arcades of public buildings, and on the fourth is the riot of domes, arches, and the soaring St. Mark's campanile that makes up Basilica di San Marco. Initiated around the year 800, the Piazza has through numerous phases of construction and reconstruction, all the way up to the reign of Napoleon and beyond.

Napoleon once called this plaza the "drawing room of Europe" because of all the amazing artworks that adorned its walls. Because of the extraordinary beauty of the Basilica of St. Mark, which stands at one end of the area, St. Mark's Square Venice was given that name. Campanile di San Marco, the bell tower of the Basilica, and the city's many museums are popular destinations. Lines to enter the basilica, an ever-bustling piazza, tolling bells from the clock tower, and a picturesque waterfront combine to make this area of Venice's most visited site.

Things To See At St. Mark's Square

Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark's Basilica)

Since 829, when some of St. Mark's bones were transferred here from Alexandria; this old chapel of the Doges has served as a religious center for the city. St. Mark's Basilica became immeasurably wealthy when Venetian crusaders returned with ships laden with Byzantine art treasures following the fall of Constantinople. All of Europe recognizes the basilica as a symbol of Venice and Italy because of the richness and artistry that have been bestowed on it throughout the years. Marveling at the Treasury's gold reliquaries and icons, along with its inlaid marble floors and ethereal, dazzling mosaics, is one of the classic things to do in St. Mark's Square Venice.

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Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace)

The Doge's Palace is located right next to St. Mark's Basilica, and its calming, airy style and pastel hues draw the eye of tourists and locals alike. The Sala Del Maggior Consiglio, with its priceless oil painting by Tintoretto, is a centerpiece of the palace's interior, just as the palace's facade is a marvel in its own right. The palace features a number of works of art by notable artists such as Bellini, Veronese, Carpaccio, and Titian, as well as Sansovino's golden stairway. In ancient Venice, the Doges' Palace served as the seat of power, and visiting it is one of the remarkable things to do in St. Mark's Square Venice. The legendary Doge of Venice built this enormous palace, which is so well furnished that it virtually functions as a separate city, during his reign.

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One of the top things to do in st marks square Venice is to visit the towering brick bell tower known as the Campanile, which is part of St. Mark's Basilica. The tower which began in 1173 and was finished in 1514 connects the Piazza to the smaller Piazzetta. The tower is a popular landmark in the square, and ships passing by could once utilize its height as a reference point. The tower's roof is slanted, and it culminates in a golden tip. In 1902, the tower's original structure fell, and in 1912, its replacement was completed. The modern tower was built in the same fashion as the previous by recycling its original stones and carvings. As if that weren't enough, between the two sets of columns are four bronze works of art by Sansovino.

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Torre dell'Orologio (Clock Tower)

Mauro Codussi planned and directed the building of the clock tower from 1496 to 1499. The tower's massive clock was crafted by Ranieri and his son; it displays the time, the moon's phase, and the constellations corresponding to the current date. Also, atop the tower are two massive bronze figures that are hinged at the waist and strike the hours on a bell. In order for the entire city to be visible from the Lagoon, the clock tower was erected, and it has since become an emblem of Venice's prosperity and prestige.

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Bridge of Sighs

The white limestone used to construct the elaborately ornamented Bridge of Sighs originates in modern-day Croatia, in the region of Istria. It crosses the Rio di Palazzo, features bars made of stone in its windows, and links the Doge's Palace interrogation rooms to the New Prison, or Prigioni Nuove. Architectural mastermind Antonio Contino was responsible for this late-16th-century masterpiece. The footbridge connected the prison's examination rooms and the Prigioni's cells, and while it looked pretty while doing so, its real purpose was to get the inmates to and from their cells.

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Piazzetta and Libreria Sansoviniana

With the Grand Canal flowing into it and the St. Mark's Square Venice leading up to the basilica, Piazetta’s attractive space becomes a broad promenade. Piazetta is a spectacular approach for tourists, being open to the sea and bounded on the right by the Palazzo Ducale. The Sansovino Libreria Vecchia arcades may be seen on the left, with the campanile and the protruding porch entrance to the Basilica di San Marco in the background. Both the Clock Tower (Torre dell'Orologio) and the Procuratie may be seen in the distance. The Libreria Sansoviniana, which was built between 1536 and 1553 and overlooks the Palazzo Ducale, marks the definitive split from Gothic Venice and the beginning of a new era for Venetian architecture. Titian's frescoes, Veronese's ceiling medallions, and Tintoretto's portraits adorn the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana's display rooms, which are housed in this structure. The shows feature a stunning array of precious stones, exquisite calligraphy, and beautifully illuminated volumes.

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Procuratie and Ala Napoleonica

The three sides of St. Mark's Square Venice are elegantly symmetrical and harmonious, while the basilica's ostentatious construction provides a welcome burst of color and contrast. Former Republic administrative headquarters, the Procuratie line both the north and south sides of Piazza di San Marco.The third and final building on the square was commissioned by Napoleon I during his stay in Venice, which lasted from 1805 to 1814. After demolishing Sansovino's chapel of San Geminiano on the western edge of Piazza San Marco in 1807, Napoleon ordered the construction of Ala Napoleonica.

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Archeological Museum

Nearby the Campanile in the Procuratie Nuove lies the Archeological Museum, where visitors can compare and contrast original Classical artifacts with Roman reproductions and Renaissance works, all of which help to provide light on the profound impact the earlier works had on later artists. Gemstone cameos, ivory carvings from the Byzantine period, and ancient Assyrian sculptures dating back to the eighth and seventh centuries BC can be found alongside the classical sculptures that influenced the Venetian Renaissance artists. Two mummies, alongside statuettes and canopic jars, are on exhibit in the modest Egyptian area.

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The Church of San Moisè

The elegant façade of San Moisè is only a short walk away through the corridor in the southwest corner of the street. The 1668 Baroque front of this church, designed by Alessandro Tremignon, is universally admired. Although many find its exquisite details and sculptures to be unnecessary, locals in Venice adore them. The church's bell tower, which stands behind it, is a separate structure made of brick. Upon entering, you will notice a Baroque statue of Moses on the High Altar and a 1732 Pieta on the inside wall of the front.

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San Zaccaria

Not in St. Mark's Square Venice itself, but close by in Campo San Zaccaria, stands the church of the most famous and exclusive convent in all of Venice, where the daughters of the Doge and other prominent Venetians made their vows. The current church and convent were constructed between 1444 and 1504, replacing an earlier structure that had been completed in 827 and housed relics of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, a gift to Venice from the Byzantine Emperor Leo V. You can find the artifacts still here, beneath the next altar on the right.

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Giardinetti Reale

The Giardinetto is located not in Piazza San Marco proper but rather along the Molo to the west of St. Mark's Square Venice. The name of this small green oasis, which features fragrant rose and oleander plants, lakes, and shaded benches, comes from its position and dates back to the 1800s. The Procuratie Nuove, Napoleon's regal residence, once stood on this very site. The granary that had stood on this site is supposed to have obscured his view of the Grand Canal, which is why he ordered its construction.

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Plan Your Visit To St. Mark's Square

Location & Best Time To Visit
How to Reach

Location: St. Mark's Square Venice is located in San Marco, 30100 Venezia VE, Italy

Best Time to Visit: April, May, September, and October is the best time to visit St. Mark's Square Venice and take in its stunning architecture and atmosphere. The middle of spring, and especially the first half of May, is a great time to take in the beauties of this Piazza and all of Venice. The square is usually crowded with sightseers throughout the summer. Visiting the square is one of the best things to do in St. Mark's Square Venice at any time of year because there are events and attractions open year-round.

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  • By Train: From the Santa Lucia train station, you can get to St. Mark's Square Venice in 45 minutes via foot, public transportation, or a water cab or hop-on hop-off boat excursion. 

  • By Water Bus: If you take one of the water bus lines that travel around the island of Venice, you can reach St. Mark's Square takes about the same amount of time as taking the subway.

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Why is St Mark's square famous?

St. Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace, the Archaeological Museum, and many other Venetian landmarks can all be found on Piazza San Marco, the city's central public area. Even Napoleon remarked that Piazza San Marco was the most stunning gathering place on earth. Because of its beautiful design and proximity to important social, religious, and cultural institutions, the piazza is a popular tourist destination for people from all over the world.

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Why was Piazza San Marco built?

In the ninth century, a tiny plaza dotted with trees was constructed and named Piazza San Marco. St. Mark's Square Venice was built with its front toward the first basilica on the site. It was in 1174 that the canal and a nearby port were filled in, thereby expanding the piazza. The square was bricked over in a herringbone pattern in the year 1267. Bricks were replaced with natural stone in 1735 to make the pavement more durable and aesthetically pleasing, and it was set in a more intricate pattern based on a plan created by architect Andrea Tirali.

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What are the most popular monuments at St Mark’s Square?

St. Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace, two of Venice's most recognizable landmarks, are located adjacent to one another on St. Mark's Square.

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When was Piazza San Marco built?

While the original foundations for St. Mark's Square Venice were laid in the ninth century, the final dimensions and layout were not defined until 1177, and the square wasn't paved until the following century.

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Can you take photos inside St Mark's Basilica?

No, photography and videography are both strictly prohibited within Venice's Saint-Mark Basilica.

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