St. Mark’s Square or the Piazza San Marco is a large public square in Venice. Constructed between 800-1100, this is the main square of the city. The locals refer to it as the ‘la Piazza’ or ‘the square’. In fact, St. Mark’s Square is the only square in Venice that is called a ‘piazza’ – the others are referred to as ‘campo’.
The square was the front courtyard of a small chapel. The Rio Batario ran between the square and the Doge’s Palace. It is now a gathering place for both locals and visitors. You will love the open space, which is lined with outdoor cafes, restaurants, and stores beneath the surrounding covered arcades. You can see many pigeons here at all times. The main street of Venice, Merceria, leads to the square through the arch of the Saint Mark’s Clock tower.
Napoleon once commented that St. Mark’s Square was ‘the drawing room of Europe’. There is, however, no documented proof of this.
Piazza San Marco opens to the Grand Canal through the delightful Piazzetta, which was formerly called II Broglio (Intrigue) because from 10 AM to noon, only the nobles were allowed to meet here. There was a time when many plots and conspiracies used to be planned here. See the 2 granite columns, the Lion of St. Mark, and the statue of St. Theodore, which came from Constantinople. You can read the detailed history of St. Mark’s Square here.
St. Mark’s Square – Quick Facts
|St. Mark’s Square||It is a large public square or piazza in Venice, Italy|
|Other Name||Piazza San Marco|
|Nearest Vaporetto stop||Piazza San Marco|
|Main Attractions||St. Mark’s Clock Tower, St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, Campanile|
|What To Do||People watching, restaurants, cafes, iconic buildings|
St. Mark’s Square Clock Tower
The clock tower is a landmark of the piazza. It adds a graceful background to the square with its galleries and columns. The Clock Tower was constructed at the end of the 15th century. Its dial bears the signs of the zodiac. On its summit, you will see the famous moors, which are a pair of giant bronze jacks that have been striking the hours for 500 years.
See the Old Law Courts built at the beginning of the 16th century to the left of the Clock Tower. Officers of the building committee of the basilica used to live here. They were in charge of looking after the building.
St. Mark’s Basilica
The Basilica was the State Church of the Republic. A former chapel, the Basilica has been an important religious site since the remains of St. Mark were brought to Venice in 829. St. Mark’s became extremely wealthy after Constantinople fell, and the Venetian crusaders returned with loads of Byzantine treasures. You will see some of that artistry and treasures on the basilica.
1. Don’t miss the 4,240 sq meters of luminous and ethereal gold mosaics
2. Pala d’Oro – The Byzantine golden retable
3. Marbled inlaid flooring
4. Gold reliquaries
There are always long lines at the St. Mark’s Basilica, but it is still a must-see in Venice. It is, after all, a landmark of Europe, and not just the city.
You will see many pigeons at St. Mark’s Square, but you cannot feed them. Heavy fines are imposed on those who feed them.
Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica are the two most famous buildings in Venice. They are next to each other. Also called the Palazzo Ducale, see and appreciate its airy, harmonious design and the soft colors, and also the sculpture, arches, domes, and the mosaics of the façade. The Interior of the Doge’s Palace is equally impressive.
- The oil paintings of Tintoretto,
- Sansovino’s Scala d’Oro golden stairway
- Sala del Maggior Consiglio
- Paintings by Veronese, Titian, Bellini, and Carpaccio
St. Mark’s Square Campanile
Campanile is a tall bell tower that is made of brick. Constructed between the 10th and the 12th century, this is the bell tower of the basilica. It links the Piazzetta with the piazza. In fact, at 98.6 meters, the tower is so tall that once ships arriving in Venice used to be guided by a beacon that was placed on its top. Campanile collapsed in 1902 but was rebuilt. See the bronze masterpieces of Sansovino between the 2 columns. You can also take the elevator to reach a platform to get a spectacular view of the lagoon and the city.
It was also a pillory during the Middle Ages. Renegade priests and adulterers were kept in a cage here and hoisted up the tower. Sometimes, they were kept up for many weeks.
St. Mark’s Square FAQ
Why is St Mark’s Square famous?
St. Mark’s Square of Venice is an important landmark of the city. Mark was an Evangelist, who founded the Church of Alexandria. He is one of the key episcopal of early Christianity. After his death, the remains of St. Mark were brought to Venice. After Constantinople fell, Venetian crusaders brought back many Byzantine art treasures.
What is there to do in St Mark’s Square?
This is the city’s biggest public square and also one of the most beautiful anywhere in the world. St Mark’s Square is so stunning that according to a legend, even Napoleon once said that it was the “Drawing Room of Europe”. Also called the Piazza San Marco, it is the most famous and most important square of Venice.
- Doge’s Palace or Palazzo Ducale
- Basilica di San Marco
- Clock Tower (Torre dell’Orologio)
- Museo del Risorgimento
- Museo Correr
- Bridge of Sighs
- Libreria Sansoviniana
What buildings are in St. Mark’s Square?
St Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace are the two most famous buildings in St Mark’s Square. You should also see the bell tower and its Renaissance-style top balcony. There are two bronze figures on the top.
Does St. Mark’s Square Venice flood?
St Mark’s Square is in one of the lowest parts of the city. The square is only about a meter above the tide level. So, it can begin to flood, when the tide reaches only 35 inches or 90 centimeters above the average. The basilica crypt floods at only 25 inches or 65 centimeters.
Which square is the Centre of activity in Venice?
St Mark’s Square or Piazza San Marco is the center of tourist activities in Venice. Locally, it is just called “la Piazza”. It is also at the center of religious, political, and social activities. Several popular tourist interests and cultural buildings line the square. There are many cafes and shops. The Grand Canal is right in front.
What is Piazza mean?
Piazza refers to an open square in an Italian town. There is St Peter Square in the Vatican City, Piazza del Campo in Siena, Piazza dei Miracoli Pisa, Piazza Duomo of Milan, Piazza della Cisterna in San Gimignano, and many others.
Does Piazza mean Plaza?
The Italian word of Piazza means “plaza”, which is actually the Spanish adaptation that refers to a town square where people meet.
What is the famous square in Italy?
The St Peter Square of Vatican City and St Mark’s Square of Venice are the two most famous squares in Italy. The Venetians became powerful at the end of the Middle Ages. The Piazza San Marco began to grow, and eventually became a famous city square in the world.
Who is Saint Mark Venice?
Mark was an Evangelist and the author of the Gospel of Mark. The founder of the Church of Alexandria, Saint Mark replaced St. Theodore as the patron saint of Venice. His attribute, the winged lion, was selected to be the official symbol of the Venetian Republic.
Is St Mark’s body in Venice?
The head of Saint Mark is in a church in Alexandria, which is named after him. You will find parts of his relics at Cairo’s Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral. His other relics are at Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.
Top Things To See At St. Mark’s Square
- St. Mark’s Basilica – Basilica di San Marco
- Doge’s Palace – Palazzo Ducale
- Clock Tower – Torre dell’Orologio
- Piazzetta and Libreria Sansoviniana
- Bridge of Sighs
- Archeological Museum