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.
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
(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.
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.
is also the huge Gothic complex of the
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.