St Mark's Square Venice or Piazza San Marco, as popularly known in Italian colloquial language, is an enigmatic and prominent square in the city. The enormous land with its grandeur and charm beckons thousands of tourists every year. I would like to present a short touring guide of the square, it's history and the key attractions encircling it.
A Brief History of St Mark's Square Venice
The establishment of St Mark's Square Venice dates back to the 9th century. Its size was further enhanced in the 12th century with the inclusion of the canal and a dock. Lined with trees, the square was created in front of the St. Mark's Basilica cathedral. Initially, the Piazza was designed in the form of a herringbone pattern, and intricate brickwork using bricks and mortar. Later in 1723, the legendary architect Andrea Tirali replaced the brickwork with exquisite geometrical pattern pavements.
The Top Attractions of St Mark's Square Venice
Encircled by elegant and state of the art buildings and arcades, the Piazza is the renowned and important travel destination within Venice. Arches, domes, pillars with wonderful carvings adorn the Square, uplifting its beauty and grandness. Let me now walk you through the key sightseeing spots around St. Mark's Square, Venice.
St. Mark's Basilica or Basilica di San Marco, is one of the most captivating and fascinating cathedrals in the world. Designed intricately, following the Venetian style of architecture, the cathedral is an iconic landmark of Venice. Spread across a sprawling area of 85,000 square feet, the entire place is skillfully designed and curated with golden mosaics. There are about 500 columns inside the Basilica and 5 domes, the designs of which consist of influence of multiple cultures. You must visit the museum inside the Basilica for a short knowledge tour of the varied collections of carpets, tapestries, the image of San Marco's bronze horses and so on.
The Church was constructed in 1071, popularly known as the “Church of Gold”. It was the brainchild of Domenico Contarini, who followed a conglomeration of western and eastern styles of architecture in carving out this amazing building. The key feature of the Basilica is its bell tower. The tower comprises of 5 bells, each with the face of a lion and image of Lady Justice as per the Venetian beliefs. You can witness the golden weather vane and the pyramid-shaped spire of the church. There is an interesting fact, I want to share with my readers. Galileo had used the clock tower to demonstrate his invention, the telescope, and even used it as his observatory.
The Doges' Palace is located beside St. Mark's Basilica and was used as the headquarters of the Doges, the ancient rulers of Venice. The size of the palace is so magnanimous, resembling a city in itself. There are guided as well as self-guided tours available for you to stroll across the palace, appreciating its assembly halls, prisons, rooms. Arches, domes, mosaic designs, exclusive sculptures, skilled stone carvings are the key features of the palace. It is one of the magnificent places to visit around St. Mark's Square, Venice. Artworks of renowned artists and painters like Titian, Carpaccio, Bellini, etc, captivate art lovers and admirers. A famous among them being Tintoretto's painting of the Sala del Maggior Consiglio, the Higher council hall of the Palace hosting about 2000 members.
The National Archaeological Museum – Established in 1523, the museum is phenomenal in hosting Roman and Greek sculptures, precious stones and gems, coins and relics from the Neolithic Age. Cardinal Domenico Grimani was the person instrumental in creating the exclusive museum. The collections in the museum consist of the sculptures belonging to his family and descendants. There were several other donations from various imminent people, which gradually increased the collections at the museum.
Gondola rides near St Mark's Square Venice are one of the key attractions and most popular among the tourists visiting the city. The gondolas depart from the waterfront near the Square. A max of 6 people can share and ride one gondola for a duration of 40 minutes or more. The route will take you across the narrow canals around St. Mark's Square, while you engross your mind and heart into the scintillating beauty around.
Tours around St Mark's Square Venice
There are walking guided tours and canal cruises around the Square and the top attractions near it for the tourists. You can walk down the serene and quiet streets, encompassing the Square and mesmerize yourself with the architectural beauty and magnificence of the buildings. The Bell Tower and the Clock Tower illustrate the Renaissance architecture of Venice and its astronomical significance.
If you want to avoid the queues and the streets, then you can opt for the canal cruises and the motorboat tours drifting you across the waterways across the Square, Doges' Palace, and the Basilica.
The Best Time to Visit the Square
The weather and temperature of Venice are comfortable and pleasant in the months of April, May, September, and October. It is good to arrive at the venue early in the morning as the crowd is less at that time. You can enjoy a peaceful stroll across the streets and around the Square, whilst devouring its exotic beauty and charm.
Well, there are many more places to visit around the Square and you can explore them further to combine with your tour to the Square. I preferred a short and sweet visit to the place and hence listed down only the top attractions. I hope you have enjoyed this short virtual tour of mine. Will like to know your feedback and experiences as well.
Read also about St Peter's Basilica in our Travel and Living Section.
A travel enthusiast craving to explore the exotic destinations in the world, deciphering the mysteries and the thrill concealed in them.