Piazza San Marco & Basilica San Marco, Venice
Inspect the details & designs on the
CLOCK TOWER: Built by Codussi between 1496 & 1499, this monument has 2 'Moors', by Ambrogio da le Anchore, who strike the hours at the top of the tower. Take note of the clockwork mechanism which indicates the passing of the seasons, the phases of the moon & the movement of the sun from one sign of the zodiac to the other. Interesting!
Explore the BASILICA OF SAN MARCO - the 'great temple' of Venice, the monumental symbol not only of the State Church but political power as well. It's here that newly elected doge was acclaimed & blessed when leading the ships & armies of the republic into war.
Fondest memory: We did not make it inside as there was a long queue & it was very close to closing hour. So, I'll definitely be back one day!
Zoom in on the detail of the facade of the BASILICA OF SAN MARCO.
Fondest memory: Well, it's not really a fond memory. We were rushing from narrow alleys to the sumptuous palaces, trying to take in as much as we can, not at a leisure pace that we'd very much like to. But, on such tours (19 days to be precise) one can't really expect much. Sure we see a lot, but we missed a lot too! That's just life, you can't have everything!!!
Venice is beautiful, but it´s too crowded, first of all by tourists, second by palomas. You find them in masses at the Piazza San Marco, where you can buy food to give it to them.....I think every year the government tries to catch and kill a part of them, because their excrements attack and destroy the old buildings of Venice.
Fondest memory: The whole city has got it´s very special flair, the canal system is so impressing, the construction and architecture amazing!
Favorite thing: Piazza San Marco is surrounded by palaces connected by continuous porticoes, the Procuratie. Its dominating buildings are the exceptional Basilica di S. Marco (started in the IX century), recalling the form of Byzantine churches with façade mosaics and, standing on its own a little way off, the tall bell tower (96.8 m) from the 12th century. Towards the lagoon, there is the Palazzo Ducale (from the XIV century), the utmost expression of Venetian Gothic architecture.
St. Mark's Square is really the heart of Venice, mostly because of its location on the banks of the grand canal, and because of the great number of beautiful, historical monuments located there. Politically and culturally, St. Mark's Square has always been a very important and strategical area in Venice.
The piazza St. Marco, is the only square that is called a Piazza, the others are simply called "campo". It's much more than a simple city square, it's a symbol. The square is now "covered" with tourists and its famous pigeons which are a very integral part of the site. The square is lined with the buildings called the Procuratia, which housed the offices and apartments of high placed officials in the Venetian government. The "procuratie vecchie" date back to the 9th century, and were rebuilt in the 16th century
The Molo is the side of San Marco Piazza that is on the Grand Canal. It is the traditional way to arrive in Venice. I took a picture from a boat (photo 5) which shows the view you would have if you were arriving the traditional way. I also have a photo (4) of the way it looks from above with the gondolas all lined up for the tourists.
There are two very photogenic columns on the Molo.
Fondest memory: One column is topped by the winged lion of San Marco AKA a griffin which is supposed to have a book between his paws (photo 2). In my picture which is a silhouette taken from the piazza, you can't see the book.
The other one looks like a man in a Roman toga with a big spear and a halo standing on an alligator or a crocodile (photo 1 and photo 3). I understand that this represents St. Theodore, who was Venice's first patron saint, and the crocodile is supposed to be a dragon.
But since the columns and statues were really raided from Oriental sites, they are kind of reverse anachronisms. That is, some Venetian brought back a column with a griffin on it, and they put it up and called it the Lion of San Marco. Another Venetian brought back an Egyptian column with a man who has killed a crocodile on top, and so they stuck a Roman emperor's head on it, added a halo and called it St. Theodore and the Dragon.
Drinking in all the wonderful architecture everywhere - this is part of St Marks the main church in Venice and a must see of course.
The different colours in the marble, the views of the domes and intricate details were mesmerising. You could spend hours just here!
This is undoubtely the main highlight of any visit to Venice. Normally overcrowded, I enjoyed at its best one morning in my first visit, as a young backpacker. We were sleeping at the floor of the Railway Station and a policeman came to wake us up at 5 in the morning!! They neede to keep the station 'clean' for the tourists of the first trains, so I just wandered around Venice till I arrived at San Marco at 6 in the morning. Empty!!! Yes, I am one of the few tourists that have seen San Marco empty.
But who is St.Mark? In the 9th century, two Venetian merchants stole St. Mark's body from Alexandria. St. Mark found a permanent resting place in the church on this site and became the patron of Venice.
Visit the Basilica and admire the exquisite mosaics adorned with gold and the Pala d'Oro altar panel, decorated with thousands of garnets, rubies, pearls and sapphires. At the porch of the church you can see the replicas of the four life-size bronze horses, brought from Constantinople in the 13th century. (The original horses are in the museum in the basilica.)
Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale) You can visit this white palace, once the center of Venetian government. The interior is magnificient, with those huge halls, but most impressive is the Scala d'Oro, the grand staircase with frescoes embellished with real gold.
Favorite thing: Pose for pictures in San Marco Piazza. Here you find the two guys wearing hats standing in San Marco Piazza. Its getting to the point now where we are beginning to get self conscious about wearing the hats in our travel pictures. But if you are traveling and see us you will recognize us by the hats!
Favorite thing: All Venice guides tell you to start your trip in Venice by taking the vaporetto from Piazzale Roma on the first trip to Canal Grande, directly to San Marco, to see it from the water first, then get off the vaporetto and go to San Marco square and from then start your trip to the sestieri of Venice. They are right and I did just so, it is lovely to see San Marco, Campanile and Dodge's palace from the first time coming on Canal Grande. First time visitors and returning visitors should do so.
Favorite thing: Started in the 9th century, this church's architecture shows an eastern and Byzantine influence: note the golden altarpiece and the 13th- and 14th-century mosaics that illustrate the cycles of the Bible. The magnificent domes date from the 12th century. The Basilica houses the Marciano Museum, which contains the original bronze horses, copies of which are now on the terrace. The church is open for mass and touring visitors to appreciate daily.
It was our first trip to Venice, and after reading some of the travel tips, I was somewhat concerned about Venice. I loved every second of it.
We flew into Treviso airport and we went to tourist information and bought a bus ticket for 5 Euros each to Venice (don't forget to get your bus ticket stamped when you buy it) and then two water bus tickets to St Mark's itself from the bus station (10 Euros). It was confusing to get to the water bus from the bus station and absolutely no-one speaks English. Luckily for us there was an English family who had been before who pointed us in the right direction.
We stayed at the ponte del sospiri hotel which is just off St Marks square and as the name suggests, right near the bridge of sighs. It was really lovely (all suite) and very cost effective.
I bought some venetial glass jewellry, which is just incredible that I have not seen anywhere else in the world, which was very very cost effective. We also bought an ashtray and some glass coasters, all of which were an incredible price. If you follow the shops from St Marks, you end up at the Rialto bridge area which is just lovely, and has hundreds of little shops with individual items in, some expensive and some less so.
We got completely diddled when we ate - we had a pizza each (two of us) and two large cokes and they charged us 118 Euros. Nothing we could do about it. We were not on St Marks either, but down one of the little alleys nearby.
I would recommend Venice to anyone. Be aware that Europeans smoke openly all over, which can be a bit upsetting when you are not used to it.
No problems with thieves at all, which I was concerned about which was good. Nobody knew where the hotel was and the hotel can't explain where it is either!! Found it in the end, after we went into another hotel and their concierge directed us. People were generally kind, if they would speak to you.
Wandering the canals and alleyways at night can be a lot of fun. The city can be most mysterious at night--especially if there is a touch of fog or a fine mist.
Early evening is a great time to visit the plentiful cafes and have a few glasses of "rosso" or "bianco".
After dinner it is good to take a long walk and see if you can't get lost. Since the city is an island, you wont ever get too far afield and it is great fun to find new nooks and crannies at night.
For the finale, it is amazing to walk into St. Mark's Square after midnight. The whole thing is lit up and if luck is on your side you can have it all to yourself.
It has been called the most beautiful drawing room in all of Europe. This is the busiest part of the city for tourists, and there are always hundreds in the square taking photographs and feeding the pidgeons.-
Its cafés are enchanting, with their outside chairs and orchestras playing classical music.-