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Piazza San Marco, or also known as, St. Mark's Square is the only real 'Piazza' in Venice. The grand square is a favorite place for locals to chill and enjoy relaxing afternoon, and at the same time tourists are also drawn to this place as well. Tourists will not only be able to chill in fancy cafes and restaurants located on three sides of the Piazza, or having fun time interacting with flocks of doves, you'll also be enchanted with several historical and artistic buildings that can be found in every corner of Piazza San Marco.
Immerse Yourself in The Artistic Beauty of Piazza San Marco, The Drawing Room of Europe
Located just above an archway to the left side of the Basilica cathedral is a clock tower called Torre dell'Orologio. The tower building was built in early Rennaisance period, which become a great reminder of Venice's wealth and become the greatest pride for all Venetians. Right at the top terrace of the clock tower are two great bronze figures named 'The Moors', guarding and ring the tower's bell at certain times. The figures are believed to depict shepherds, though there are some people who think they are actually figures of giants. Just below the rooftop is a statue of Winged Lion of Saint Mark, majestically stood on its four feet. It was said that a statue of the Doge Agostino Barbarigo was kneeling before the lion. Though the statue was completely removed during the reign of Napoleon as an effort to disperse any symbols of the old regime. Visitors are allowed to explore the stairways inside the building, up to the rooftops where you can view breath-taking scenery of Piazza San Marco and its surroundings from above.
Head towards the northern side of the grand Basilica cathedral to discover this petite piazza called Piazetta dei Leoncini, literally means 'Small Piazza' in English. The small city square is guarded by two majestic red marble lions presented by Doge Alvise Mocenigoin for Venice in 1722. Walk pass the lion twins and you'll see an old shallow well right at the center. Plazetta del Leoncini is a popular city square where visitors come and relax while enjoying their food.
Explore old Venetian housings in Procuratie Vecchie, located to the left along the northern side of Piazza San Marco. You'll see 16th century houses lining up neatly along the road. The houses were used as a residence and also the offices of high state officials back when Venice was titled as Republic of Venice. While today the houses are no longer used as residences, they are used as shops for souvenirs and restaurants. Some of the buildings are still functioned as state offices too.
Ala Napolenica or also called as Napoleon Wings is a square wing built under the order of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1810. It's located at the end of Piazza San Marco facing the Basilica Cathedral, and on the left side of Caffe Quadri. The Square is renowned for its numerous cafes and sophisticated restaurants. There's also a grand staircase strongly influenced by Neoclassicim decorated by renowned artist Giuseppe Borsato that leads to Museum Correr. Picturesque view of Piazza San Marco can be seen through the windows of a long corridor connecting Ala Napolenica with Napoleon's throne room.
Head to the opposite direction from the Liberia to find this historical Bell Tower. The grand tower is simply astounding as it stood proudly in 323 foot. The St. Mark Church's Bell Tower had been going through a lot, even the grand tower you see today is not the original tower that was built in the 12th Century. The original tower was struck by lightning several times before it finally suffered great damage due to an earthquake. In 1902 it's finally collapsed though the new tower was built in following 10 years with an exactly same design as the old one.
Piazetta di San Marco is an open space located on the southern side of Piazza San Marco, that also connect the Piazza and the lagoon. The small city square is also located between the Biblioteca Marciana and Doge's Palace, you can see two large columns made of granite serving as an entrance. Right on top of the first column is a stone figure of Saint Theodore, a patron saint of the city. The saint is pictured to hold a spear against a dragon, legend has it that the saint was managed to slay the dragon. While on the second column is a figure of winged lion that serve as a symbol of Venice and also the symbol of St. Mark. Piazetta di San Marco had serve as a venue for so many occassions, including gamblings and public executions. Today, the square is a relaxing place where visitors chill and immerse themselves in the city's history.
How to Get Tickets?
To get into Piazza San Marco is free of charge. However, you have to reserve in advanced if you want to enter the Clock Tower or to visit museums located in the Squares. Additional fees are also needed if you want to dine in the cafes and restaurants.
How To Get Around?
Piazza San Marco is a spacious place, but almost all major attractions in Venice are reachable on foot from the city square. Just make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes, you'll walk miles! For a romantic dinner in the plaza, you can dress up yourself a bit with a flirty dress paired with sexy stiletto shoes. Don't forget to bring a shawl to protect yourself from the cold.
What Should I Wear?
No special dress code unless you're planning to enter religious sites such as Basilica Church for example, you will be needed to wear more appropriate and modest clothes. Wear clothes that cover your shoulders and opt for trousers or light jeans.
Best Time to Visit
Piazza San Marco is usually get crowded with people around 11 AM, so it might be a best choice to come early in the morning. The weather will still relatively cool and you can enjoy all attractions without having to deal with crowds. Better yet, come during the night when the whole plaza is bathe in lights giving spectacular views and romantic atmosphere.
Will I Need a Guide?
How To Get There?
Piazza San Marco is accessible by any means of public transportation. You can take Vaporetto or walk on foot for few minutes if you go from Piazzale Roma. Piazza San Marco can also be reached by ferry boats from further places in Venice.
Piazza San Marco is the lowest point in Venice, and therefore always flooded when acqua alta is happening. Acqua Alta usually happens in winters, when a mix of astronomical tides, strong southern wind and sea waves cause a bigger inflow of water into Venetian tidal pond.