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Piazza San Marco - Heart of Venice
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Probably this square is your first direction to walk to when you are in Venice. The St. Mark's Square. Also called Piazza San Marco. There is much to do and to see. It is surrounded by majestic buildings such as the Doge's Palace, St. Mark's Basilica, the Campanile tower, the bell tower "Torre dell' Orologio," and Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana. 

The square used to be - and still is - used for parties, ceremonies, and victories. That feeling comes back when you see the stately arcades from the 16th century around the square.

Piazza San Marco 360 - activity

You will discover a symbolic city gate at the entrance to the Merceria shopping street.

And if you look at St. Mark's Square from above, there is an L-shaped corner. This is the space between the Doge's Palace and the Marciana Library. This square section is a wide promenade and is called "Piazzetta" in Italian.

If you walk to the quay, it offers a beautiful view of the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. But there are also two pillars with the saint St. Theodore and the lion of St. Mark on top. These columns were taken from the east in 1172 and act as a symbolic gateway to the Adriatic Sea.

The Piazzetta location at the St, Marc Square

Pigeons in Piazza San Marco

Pigeons in Piazza San Marco chased

Piazza San Marco is not only full of people and magnificent architecture, but it is also full of pigeons. These pigeons are a problem. You are not allowed to feed the birds. The pigeons cause damage to the mosaics of the Basilica and to the buildings around the square.

Several attempts have been made to control the pigeon population, but they have been unsuccessful. Tip: To limit the damage, feeding the pigeons is forbidden; offenders can be fined from € 50 to € 200.

Get to know Piazza San Marco further

The Basilica was one of the first buildings on the square. Piazza San Marco is, therefore, in the heart of Venice. The square is 180m long and 70m wide. It was made in the ninth century, but the square took its current shape in the year 1177. Only 100 years later, the square was paved. Before that, it was a small lawn with trees around it. 

Piazza San Marco is one of the most beautiful squares. Napoleon called it "the most beautiful salon in the world". 

What has happened? The square is full of secrets - Book a walk with a local guide and discover St. Mark's Square!

Of course, you will notice the brick bell tower (campanile). The tower sticks out above all buildings. The campanile is so high that it was used to guide ships home. The campanile was rebuilt three times - the newest version was ready in 1912. Click here to climb the Campanile tower >

Piazza San Marco posing

And then there is something else you should notice. This is the glorious Torre dell' Orologio. The blue bell tower on St. Mark's Square. A miracle from 15th-century technology. The clock tower was built between 1496 and 1499 by Mauro Codussi. A real piece of Venetian art. You can climb the tower to get a closer look at the structure.

You walk past restaurants and shops under the columns. Such as Caffè Quadri, which was visited by Austrians in the 19th century when they ruled over Venice. Remarkably, local Venetians preferred Caffè Florian's on the other side of the square. The bar dates from 1720 and has been offering live music to its customers for the past 100 years. Pay attention to your budget. The cheapest drink or coffee is around € 10. But then you did well!

Do you want to prevent high costs? Then I have a Voucher for you to sit on a terrace on St. Mark's Square! Sit on the square and enjoy the passers-by, a voucher for 11 euros, then you know for sure that you no longer spend;)

Is the paving of St. Mark's Square so different now?

The Piazza was paved with bricks in the 12th century. Light-colored stones ran parallel to the long axis of the square. These lines were used in setting up market stalls and in organizing ceremonial processions. 

In 1723 the stones were replaced by a more complex design by the architect Andrea Tirali. Here too, patterns came back, so that market traders knew where their booth had to be. Others say it has a pattern that resembles an oriental rug, a popular luxury item in Venice. Book a guide with a walking tour where this will be explained >

Floods on St. Mark's Square

The square is not far above sea level, and during the Acqua Alta, the "high water" from the Adriatic Sea or heavy rain, it is quickly flooded. Water flows into the sewerage below the square and then directly back into the Grand Canal. This usually works well, but when the tide is high, it has the opposite effect, with water from the lagoon flowing into the square.

Hotels near Piazza San Marco

Hotel Concordia on the Piazza San Marco

With so many things to do around Piazza San Marco, the hotels are top-rated. The hotels near St. Mark's Square are convenient to see many of the city's main tourist attractions.

Click here for hotels around San Marco Square. This hotel 'Concordia' overlooks St. Mark's Square. Couples can particularly appreciate the location - they gave a score of 9.5 for a trip for two.

What can you do at Piazza San Marco?

Tourism on Piazza San Marco

Saint Mark's Square is the epicenter of Venice. The square is full of tourists in the summer. Winter, although wet and cold, can be very romantic.

Here are some activities to do and see on St. Mark's Square:

Visit St. Mark's Basilica. Almost 1000 years old architecture, lots of mosaic and gold. I think it is beautiful when the first dawn sets the Basilica in the spotlight. Everything seems to shine just a little more! Magnificent. Read here how to visit the Basilica.

Listen to the bells of the Campanile di San Marco. The detached tower, 30 meters high above the square, with five bells, covered with Venetian lion faces. Awarded with an original spire and a golden weather vane in the parable of the archangel Gabriel.

Wander through the rooms of the Doge's Palace. When you visit the Doge's Palace, you will be amazed by the maze of corridors and rooms that exist. The biggest attraction in the history of Venice. Children find it amazing! And the labyrinth in prison is pretty scary!

Visit the National Archaeological Museum. This museum tells the story of Venice: a city of art, glass, ceramics, and jewelry. It has a range of Greek, Egyptian, Assyrian, and Babylonian art and archaeological finds.

Read classical texts in Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana. The National Library is in the L-shape of the square. It owns thousands of works that were printed between the 16th and 17th centuries. They say it contains the most extensive collection in the world. 

See Venetian art at Museo Correr. Above the arcade of shops along the Procuratie Nuove is the Museo Correr. The museum is located on the top floor of the buildings on the square. 

Order your entrance ticket here:

  • the Archaeological Museum
  • Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana
  • Museo Correr
  • And much more...

Drink a Bellini on a terrace on the square. Piazza San Marco is surrounded by buildings with elegant cafés on the ground floor. Order a Bellini - a cocktail of Prosecco and peach nectar, invented in 1931 - as you watch the world go by. But be prepared to pay the price, because a front-row seat in this iconic square is not cheap.

Do you want to prevent high costs? Then I have a Voucher for you! Sit on the square and enjoy the passers-by. For 11 euros, then you know for sure that you no longer spend;)

Choice of coffee, cappuccino or milk with cookies; or Spritz, a glass of wine or soft drink with something to nibble at the Al Todaro Bar.


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