A work of art and architecture, the bell tower of San Marco stands right in front of the church on Piazza San Marco. The "Campanile", as it is most often referred to by the Venetians, is an outstanding landmark of Venice. Standing at almost 100 meters high it is hard to miss it once at the square. Unlike the Basilica, its simple brick structure makes it unique while standing out from other structures.
The Bell tower also known as the 'campanile' is one of the churches most prominent features. It assumed its present appearance in 1514 after the reconstruction to the extension was finished. Thereafter, it remained virtually unaltered until it suddenly collapsed in 1902 but was quickly rebuilt the way it was. Apparently the Italians believe in the philosophy of "Com'era, dov'era" which translates to "how it was, where it was". Thus the current feature and a feast was held when it was finally reopened in 1912; the feat of Saint Mark.
"Do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today"
Fortunately you don't actually have to climb this tower as the Campanille has a lift to the top. The drawback of this is the cost which is €8 per person., but it does take just a minute or so to get to the top and then you'll get some amazing views over Venice and the lagoon. I'm told that if it is very clear you can sometimes see all the way to the Alps, but the day we went was not at all clear and in fact we had a few snowflakes!
In cold weather the top of the Campanille is extremely cold and windy. Also if you are at the top on the hour you'll discover just how loud the bells are!
According to legend the first campanile of St Mark was started on 25th April 912 AD but it wasn't finished until 1173. It was supposed to be a lighthouse to assist sailors in the Venetian lagoon but by the middle ages it had taken on a more gruesome purpose as a torture cage was hung from it and offenders were imprisoned and sometimes left to die in it. The tower was also the place from which in 1609 Galileo demonstrated his telescope to the Doge Leonardo Dona.
However, Venice's tallest building eventually fell victim to it's shallow foundations and centuries of erosion and in 1902 it suddenly collapsed. Amazingly the only casualty was the cat belonging to the custodian of the tower. The Venetian's soon set about rebuilding their tower and the following year a foundation stone was laid for a new campanile to be built "where it was and how it was". The rebuilt tower actually has much more substantial foundations, although these are already having to be reinforced. The campanile reopened on 25th April 1912, on the supposed 1000 anniversary of the starting of the first tower.
You can go to the top of the Campanile.
This 99 metres high tower was associated with the maritime and business trade in the archipelago area from the 12th Century. In the 1500s, a belfry and spire was added alongside a rotating platform type with an Archangel Gabriel which functioned as a weathercock.
The tower originally had five bells but only one, the largest, remains. Visitors can climb up the tower up to the Belfry Loggia for amazing views across Vencie and the lagoon. The bells were used as notification for important announcements such as political meetings and executions.
The balcony was built by Jacopo Sansovino in the 16th Century and marbles and bronzes were used as materials. The balcony was reconstructed in 1912 and keeping to the original architectural design.
Visitors can climb up the tower but the queues are off putting especially in the morning. You can find out further information from the website.
Oddly enough, visiting the Campanile was not at the top of my "to do" list, but as it turned out, it was one of my favorite things during our visit to Venice!
On the day we tried but did not succeed in visiting St. Mark's Basilica, our next and easiest choice was to visit the Campanile which is located across the Piazza. The line was relatively short, and we easily passed the roughly 30 minutes waiting time talking to the family in front of us. When we finally made it just inside, we purchased our ticket (8 Euros ea.) and boarded the elevator which took us swiftly to the open observation area.
As you work your way around the observation area, spread before you are the views of the rooftops of San Marco, the lagoon and island of San Giorgio Maggiore, the Chiesa del Salute, the Doge's Palace, the Piazza San Marco of course, and it's said that on a clear day you can see all the way to the Dolomites! I would very much like to have stayed up there for at least an hour but had to settle for far less.
Take time to have a look the tower bells and the very small but ornate, wrought iron staircase which appears at the middle of the observation level. It's said that there were originally 5 bells, with each being rung for a different purpose to proclaim to the citizenry of Venice the death of a doge, a war declared, or for religious holidays. Notably, there is also a plaque which commemorates the fact that even Galileo couldn't resist visiting the campanile with his telescope. There is a small gift shop there with postcards, magnets, and other souvenirs and two Euro will get you a coin emblazoned with the image of the Campanile itself.
Keep in mind that the campanile standing today was built in the 20th century! The original campanile was built in the 9th century, with succeeding attempts in 12th, 14th, and 16th centuries as well. The marble loggia base was added by Jacopo Sansovino in the 16th century rebuild, only to have the tower collapse in 1902. Not to be dissuaded, the Venetians rebuilt the tower exactly as it had looked, reusing some of the same materials. Only one of the 5 original bells remains in use today but in my opinion, all the bells look quite ancient.
The bell tower of St. Mark's basilica is located right in front of the church on Piazza San Marco. The "Campanile", as it is most often referred to, is another one of Venice's easily recognizable structures. It is almost 100 m tall, and its simple brick design is quite different from the elaborate Byzantine style of the basilica - so much so that the two don't really seem related at all. Records show that the first bell tower was built during the 9th century, but over the years the Campanile was damaged by several earthquakes and fires, which led to different restoration and reconstruction works. It took on its present form during the 15th century, and the beautiful balcony at the base of the bell tower, called "Sansovino Loggia", was added in the 16th century. In July 1902, when the Campanile completely collapsed, plans were immediately laid to build a new one that would keep the previous design. The new Campanile and loggia were completed in 1912.
The only time we had to wait in line for anything during our trip to Venice was to go up the Campanile. We waited about 30 minutes to take the elevator that brings visitors up to the belfry, from where it's possible to enjoy a fantastic view of Venice and the lagoon - that in itself was worth waiting in the sun for half an hour! The Campanile's five bells - Marangona, Nona, Trottiera, Mezza Terza and Renghiera - can also be seen. It was interesting to learn that back in the days, each bell had a purpose: the first one announced the beginning and the end of the working day, Nona was rang at lunch time, the following two bells announced Upper Council and Senate meetings, repectively, while Renghiera rang when there was an execution. The bells still ring every hour and trust me, they're loud!!
Tickets for the Campanile cost 8 Euros.
As mentioned in my previous tip, I didn't ascend the tower during my Christmas 06 visit.
I hadn't intended to visit this time (June 07), but - No Queue and the elevator was working! So I decided this my chance to see the views, and maybe catch the sunset!
Apparently on a clear day, You can see the Alps
I paid 6 euros, and entered the lift.
My initial idea that I would have the views more or less to myself were soon quashed by the noisy arrival of a large group of middle aged- elderly people, weighed down with cameras, all chattering ten to the dozen at top volume in an unidentifiable language.
As the elevator rose, my spirits sunk - as I was repeatedly dug in the ribs by my neighbours elbow, while being trodden on - Hey, I'd become invisible!!
Spilling out of the elevator, I headed towards one of the viewing bays, and was settling down to get my bearings, when I was nudged along, by one of the camera wielding group, eager to take a picture of their partner.
I moved to one side, thinking she would take the photo, then move on - Oh no- this was to be an epic, as the one being photographed kept directing the shot, checking it, deciding it wasn't to her liking, re posing etc!
Each of the viewing bays has a map depicting the view, and indicating the direction that you're facing. There are also taped guides available from the ticket desk.
However, getting to see anything became a battle, as another group from the same party had arrived.
The Camponile had become Campon-Hell!
I eventually managed to see the views - including over San Marco Piazza, the roof of the Ducal Palace, towards the surrounding islands, and I even caught the sun setting.
I would have liked to have spent more time locating the landmarks of Venice, but was getting fed up of being jostled around.
During this time, the large bells rang - but even they couldn't drown out the sound of this tour group!
I admitted defeat and left!
Open Daily 0900 hrs
October - Easter to 1700
Easter - Sept to 1900
June - mid September to 2100
Admission 6 euros
UPDATE- December 2008 - I visited the church of St Giorgio Maggiore - climbed its campanile - and had a better time- less crowded , 3 Euros, and with Great views -and time to enjoy them!!
UPDATE - DEC 09-Closed at present for restoration work -
This 325ft red brick belltower is one of Piazza San Marcos popular landmarks.
As I mentioned in my intro, I don't like to waste time queueing for hours, when I could be spending the time exploring etc.
However, on my last morning, I'd nipped out to find an ATM in the Piazza, and passing the Campanile, saw there was only a short queue, so decided to take my chance. I'd been stood for 5 minutes, when I learnt that the elevator was broken- there was some chance that it would be sorted within the hour. I returned to my hotel and continued with my original plan, to see as much of Venice in my few hours before returning to the airport
The Camponile holds 5 bells, each had their own function
The Trottiera announced a session of the Grand Council
The Marangona is the largest, signalling the beginning and end of the working day
The Nona rang to announce noon
The Mezza Tererza rang to announce the opening of senate
The Maleficio -the smallest bell rang to announce an execution
In 912 the tower was in operation as a lighthouse and belltower. The area that is now the Piazzetta, was the citys harbour.
It was continually renovated and modified until 1515, when it was rebuilt by Bartolomeo the Younger, who added a gold angel to its top. This lasted until 14th July 1902, when the tower gained a huge crack, followed by the tower completely collapsing at 09.52- being Venetian, it did this elegantly! and surprisingly the only life lost was of the caretakers cat - Melampyge, who was named after Casanovas dog!!
The decision was made to reconstruct the tower 'Where it was and as it was' or dov'era e com'era - (The same slogan being used later that century following the fire and subsequent restoration of the Fenice Theatre), and it re-opened on St. Marks Day 25th April1912. There were those who thought that the Piazza looked far better without the Camponile though.
The base of the tower -an elegant Loggetta, was intended to be a club for noblemen, but became a guardroom for voluntary police officers - the Arsenalotti, then the state lottery centre.
When the tower collapsed, it was completely destroyed, but surprisingly was reconstructed from the salvaged wreckage. Salsovina originally designed a building to completely enclose the campaniles base, but in the end, only a quarter of this work was carried out (between 1537 and 49)
The marble reliefs are from Verona, representing Venice (Justice) Crete (Jupiter) and Cyprus (Venus) (The Most Serene Republic -Serenissima )
Bronze figures of Pallas, Apollo, Mercury and Peace, and the terracotta figures inside the loggia are believed to be the work of Sansovino, except for the figure of St John, which is a modern copy.
Lift Open (!) daily April - June, Sept and October 0900 - 1945
July and August 0900 - 2100
November- March 0930 - 16.15
Closed for 3 weeks after Christmas each year
admission 6 euros.
I've been told that a good view is just before the sunsets.
UPDATE>>>> I understand that the Campanile is closed for restoration at the moment -It usually is after Christmas, but this is a BIG JOB!!!!
Towering nearly 100 metres above Piazza San Marco, il Campanile di San Marco was originally built in the 10th century. It had the triple function of acting as the bell tower of the Basilica, as a defensive watchtower, and as a lighthouse for navigating ships. Il Campanile received its present look in the 16th century after a damaging earthquake necessitated restoration and renovation, only its foundation gave way in 1902 causing the entire tower to collapse. It had become such an important symbol of the city that funds poured in for its reconstruction. It was rebuilt in 1912 identically to its predecessor, about a millennia after it was first built! The only difference was that the new tower was equipped with a lift, which now shuttles visitors up for panoramic views of Venice and its lagoon.
I have to admit that enjoyed the bell tower of San Marco more than anything else at the square. The entrance fee is 8 euro but it is worth every euro because of the amazing view you will get when you get up there by lift.
The tower is 98 meters tall with a golden statue of the archangel Gabriel on the top that rotate by wind and when it facing the Basilical the locals know there will be high water! It dates back from the 9th century and rebuilt in 12th, 14th and 16th again. It was totally collapsed in 1902 and was built again in 1912. What we see today is a replica of its predecessor. Although it is a bell tower it was basically used as a watchtower. It houses 5 bells that signaled different messages (start/end of the work day, the hour, call to judges at the doge’s palace, summon magistrates and announce of executions!!). Some days earlies I had seen AC/DC live in Athens so I couldnt resist singing "Hells Bells" for a while :)
As I said the amazing thing here isn’t the tower and the big bells (pic 2) but the amazing views over Venice (pics 3-4). I was surprised we were almost alone up there so we could take our time admiring the view in all directions and then take some photos of the lagoon, the neighboring islands, the beautiful red rooftops of Venice etc. There are some simple signs that indicate what you are looking at and you can also use the audio guide that you take before going up with the lift. It is open 9.00 till late in the afternoon (depending on season).
There is a small souvenir shop up there but don’t waste your time for that up there, enjoy the view!
The line at St. Marks was long, so we went up the bell tower instead. That was 8 € each and was a lot of fun. We had great views over the city. There is an elevator - you don't have to walk up. Before we got on the elevator we saw signs in many languages (photo 5) which said "It is obligatory to deposit here the backpacks. The deposit is free. Attention! Do not lose your ticket. Thanks"
A campanile – pronounced /kampaˈni:le/ – is, especially in Italy, a free-standing bell tower, often adjacent to a church or cathedral. The word derives from the Italian campanile, from campana (bell). In the St Mark's Campanile, there are the 5 bells (one of them is in photo 2). I don't think they will be rung while people are up there.
For those that like statistics, the tower is 98.6 meters tall, and is mainly a plain brick square shaft, 12 meters a side and 50 meters tall, above which is the arched belfry. The belfry is topped by a cube, alternate faces of which show walking lions and the female representation of Venice (la Giustizia: Justice). The tower is capped by a pyramidal spire, at the top of which sits a golden weathervane in the form of the archangel Gabriel. If you get a good picture of what the bell tower looks like in your head, you can figure out where you are because all the many campanile of Venice are different.
Schedule for visits
From April To June and In September and October:
From 9 a.m. the morning until 7 p.m. in the evening.
In July and August:
From 9 a.m. of the morning until 9 p.m. in the evening.
From November To March:
From 9 a.m. thirty the morning up to 4:15 p.m. in the afternoon.
When you are looking over the city and trying to pick out landmarks, it had a green triangular top.
The bells house of the Campanile is a quadratic open terrace, with arches and columns.
Here, there are five bells with different resonances and several functions in the ancient times.
The Venetians knew the sense of the sounds.
The marangona ringed at the beginning and at the end of a work day.
The malefico announced an execution.
The nona sounded at the noon.
The mezza terza called the senators in the Palace of the Doges.
The trottiera announced a session of the Grand Council.
An elevator, installed in the 1962 in the inside of the Campanile, brings the tourists on the terrace with splendid view over the city.
On the top of the tower, a golden angel is placed. That was the creation of Bartolomeo Bon.
The 98,6 m high Campanile towers at the corner between the Piazzetta and the Piazza San Marco.
The Bell Tower, the Venice's well-known landmark, faces exactly the basilica.
Already in the 9th century, there was here, a belfry.
The design for the present-day form, with spire and gilt angels, comes from the year 1514.
In January of the year 1902, the entire tower fell, suddenly, in itself together.
To the luck, the Loggetta, the building placed at the feet of the tower, was not destroyed.
An elevator drives up to the platform with splendid view over the city and the lagoon, until to the Alps.
Unlike in many Italian cities where you have to be fit (to climb hundreds of steps in claustrophobic conditions) to enjoy superb city views, Venice - its Campanile (bell tower), to be specific - takes tourists up the 99-meter tower in no time (and effort) at all through an efficient lift system. Not fun, if you are like me who considers the effort in climbing up as part of the experience. Somehow the reward of spectacular views is not as sweet as when actual physical exertion is involved. In any case, this is highly recommended and offers countless photo opportunities of the city's unique character.
But I doubt if that was that easy (to get to the top) when the tower was first built in the 10th century (which was destroyed in the 1902 and rebuilt since then), when the elevator didn't exist, much less electric power.
As the pictures will indicate, the weather was lovely when I went up. I initially planned to visit the Campanile a day prior to that, but the weather was not as good with occasional drizzles and very cloudy - not very good conditions for outdoor photography. The catch of visiting the Campanile on a fine day was the higher entrance fee of 7 euros vs. 6 euros when weather was not as good.
The campanille is 99 meters high and it´s situated in front of St Marks. Is the highest point of Venice and offers a wonderful sights of the city. The original tower is from c XI and suffered a fire in c. XV. The present one is from c. XX.
Torre de 99 metros de altura que se encuentra al lado de la basilica de San Marcos. Es el punto mas alto de la ciudad y ofrece una vista maravillosa. El original era del siglo XI, pero sufrió numerosos avatares entre ellos un incendio en el siglo XV. El actual es del siglo XX.