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Basilica Di San MarcoPIAZZA SAN MARCO is the only official piazza in Venice (all the others are officially campi) and is an amazing sight even when filled with throngs of chattering tourists.  Visit the Piazza early in the day or late in the afternoon to avoid the worst crowds.  Here you can marvel at the harmony of this wonderful open space.  The whole square measures 176m long and 82m wide.

The center of attention in Piazza San Marco is its namesake, the BASILICA DI SAN MARCO.  The Basilica is an architectural masterpiece; a fusion of western and Byzantine styles.  Basilica di San Marco was built in 1094 on the site of the ninth-century basilica built to house the remains of St. Mark.

The highlights of the square also include the 15th-century Torre dell'Orologio (Clock Tower) and its zodiac clock, the graceful architecture of the Sansoviniana Library, and the two columns near the waterfront, topped by the lion of St. Mark and the St. Theodore with his crocodile emblem. 

 

Piazza San Marco is also home to the CAMPANILE (Bell Tower), Venice's tallest building.  The Campanile is less than 100 years old.  It was built on the foundations of the original bell tower, which collapsed in 1902.  Take the elevator up to the top of the bell tower for superb views of the city.  On a clear day you can even see as far as the Alps.

   
   
   

Nearby is also the huge Gothic complex of the PALAZZO DUCALE.  This palace was the seat of Venice's Government and where the Council of Ten met.  The building dates from the 15th century and you must take a tour to see all areas of the Palace.  Make sure you don't miss the BRIDGE OF SIGHS.  This well known Venetian bridge was built in the early 17th century and has two parallel passageways.  One way was for prisoners going in front of the Council of Ten, and the other passageway was for prisoners exiting the chambers.  The picture below was taken from inside the Bridge of Sighs.


 

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Visit a part of Venice most tourists never see!

 

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