There is only one Piazza in Venice, San Marco. Any other open square in this city is not allowed this title, and is simply called a Campo. Piazza San Marco is perhaps the most dramatic and famous Piazza in the world. It has always been the focal gathering place for all Venetians, rich and poor alike. Now, thousands of tourists fill that role every day.
Easily a day could be spent in the Piazza and it’s immediate surroundings, which include:
- Venice’s Basilica San Marco, with rich and lavish art inside and out
- The world class Museo Correr
- Campanile Which towers over the square
- The beautiful and mechanically genius Torre del’Orologio (Clock Tower)
- The Doges Palace, a museum in itself
- The Bridge of Sighs
- The famous Café Florian
Any time of year, there will be follow tourists flooding in the piazza to see these sites. If you can visit early in the morning, you may have the Piazza to yourself (and a few pigeons), magic.
Cool video clip of the Piazza-
The piazza San Marco is in Venice the most visited square.
Each Venice-traveller looks for this world-famous place that so many architectural masterpieces have.
One can bewitch also from the charm of the piazza with its famous constructions from different epochs.
At the east of the piazza, rises the magnificent facade of the Basilica di San Marco.
The Palazzo Ducale is placed at the south of the piazza.
On the other side, lies the Piazzetta dei Leoni, a small place that is dominated by the Torre dell'Orologio.
The Procuratie Vecchie are at the northern side.
Oh the opposite side gets along the Procuratie Nuove
There is accommodated, today, the Museo Civico Correr.
On three sides around the place, under the arcades, there are stylish stores and expensive historic cafes.
The Campanile (Bell Tower), Venice’s knowing nest landmark, faces exactly the basilica.
For a beautiful pause, there are many cafes from the place round.
In the Florian, in the Lavena or in which Quadri can you your silence enjoys, a coffee drinks or a delightful piece of pie eats.
At every full time, many people gather under the renaissance clock tower, that guards the entrance to the Mercerie.
The main tower was built between 1406 and 1506; the wings came later to it.
The architect Mauro Coducci placed a Madonna and a big golden lion before a blue background decorated with stars.
The clock face with zodiac signs and a blue-golden midsection is under it.
In normally, two gigantic bronze statues knock against the hour, however in the week about Ascension Day, appears from the side doors, angels and the manners from the East.
VAPORETTO - SAN ZACCARIA or SAN MARCO (VALLARESSO)
This impressive Clock tower is probably best viewed from in front of the main door of St Marks. It was built between 1496 and 1506 and has been renovated this century.
The central part of the clock tower was designed in 1499, by Mauro Codussi, and the wings, are believed to be the work of Pietro Lombardo.
The clocks workings were by Paolo and Carlo Rainieri, brothers from Reggio Emilia. It took them 3 years to complete.
Local legend stated that other cities were so jealous of this fine clock, they circulated a rumour that the citizens of Venice tore out the eyes of the brothers to prevent them ever building a similar piece. It is more likely that they were instead very well rewarded for their work! As was tradition, they were given housing in the tower, as were their descendants, which further discounts the rumour.
The clock doesn't just give an accurate time, but also shows the zodiac sign and latest lunar phase for the time. This is one of a few clocks in Venice that show a 24 hour clockface
The legend 'Horas non numero nisi serenas' is depicted, and translates as 'I only number happy hours'
At one time, ships leaving the Grand Canal used the clock to help plan their best times and route for setting sail, and in 1858, it was also declared that all clocks in the city would be set by this timepiece.
On top of the tower are 2 bronze figures of ' The Moors' or 'The Mori ', who 'sound the hours' Originally the intention was for the men to be giants, but as the bronze quickly darkened in the Venetian atmosphere, they became known as 'The Moors' . These huge bronzes were cast in 1497, in the Arsenale. They represent ' the chaos and primordial darkness that preceded The Creation of the World' Their hammers strike the large bell representing the ringing sound of The Word or Fiat Lux that the world was created!
Apparently during Epiphany and Ascension week, this vision is further enhanced by figures of the 3 kings and an Angel appearing, to pay homage to the Madonna. This happens on the hour.
Prior to the renovation work, it was possible to climb the tower, to watch The Moors striking the time, and for views over the city. I understand that tickets for an hour long guided tour are available from the Museo Correr
From the top of the Campanile you have a birds eye view of 'The Moors'. (pic 2)
The clock tower, a part of the Museo Correr, founded by Count Teodoro Correr, was built at the end of the 15th century.
On top of the tower are two (once dark brown, today already rather with a green shade) bronze statue, known as "Moors", by whom the bell is tolled quarter-hourly.
The main dial of the large Astronomical Clock has one hand only, for the hours, but shows the phases of the moon and sun as well as the signs of the zodiac. This is typical of early clocks: knowing the approximate time of day was enough precision for those less tightly scheduled times. The clock was the official timekeeper in the past centuries, and all other clocks of Venice were adjusted to it.
The facade of the tower with its symbols shows the powers that govern Venice, namely the scientific progress, civic authority and Christian faith.
Note that the clock is one of the worl'd first digital timepieces. As I recall, it was also accurate, and the time really was 1:40 in the afternoon.
Entrance fee 14 € incl. all facilities of the Museo Correr.
Open for guided tours only: Mon-Wed 9am, 10am, 11am; Thu-Sun 1pm, 2pm, 3pm.
English tours Mon-Wed 10am, 11am; Thu-Sun 1pm, 2pm, 3pm
Oh my god, it seems every tourist comes here in Venice so it is always croweded. We knew that so we came early in the morning (before 9.00am) we strolled around, when only the street sellers were putting the souvenirs stands. There were many pigeons around but not so many as in the past probably because feeding them isn’t allowed anymore. There are many cafes and restaurants and some musicians always play music for the customers. San Marco is the only square in Venice called “piazza”, all the others are called "campo"Napoleon called San Marco square “the most beautiful drawing room in Europe” and definetelly this huge trapezoidal square is nice, especially if you look down at it from the Campanile (pic 1).
Although the Campanile (bell tower) is important because you can have a wonderfull view all over Venice (check next tip) there are many other sites to visit at San Marco square: Torre dell Orologio (Clock Tower), the Columns of Saint Mark and Theodore, the Doge Palace and of course San Marco Basilica.
San Marco church (Basilica di San Marco) is an amazing big cathedral (pic 2-3). It was first built in 9th century when the body of Saint Mark was brought from Alexandria. It was rebuilt after two centuries by architects from Istanbul (Constantinople that era). You can see a mix of different architectural styles, the façade has oriental and Romanesque elements.
It is open to tourists(possible variations due to religious services):Monday-Saturday 9.45-17.00 Sunday 14.00-17.00. Before your visit, luggage & rucksacks must be left at the left luggage office indicated on the map(Ateneo San Basso) that you will see outside the church on a sign. Don’t worry, it is opposite the church. Although photography isn’t allowed inside it’s worth to wait at the line to enjoy it. There is no entrance fee but you have to pay 4 euros for the museum that houses the 4 original gilded bronze horses. They were brought during the fourth Crusade from Constantinople where they graced the hippodrome. It’s not sure if they are greek or roman though.
If you don’t have a lot of time check some nice details outside, like the replica bronze horses on the façade, or the Four Tetrarchs a nice porphyr sculpture that represents the Tetrarchs -rulers of the Roman Empire- (Diocletian, Maximian, Galerios and Constantinos). It is weird that all of them look the same but it’s because symbolizes the unity of them. Like the four horses they were came from Constantinople together with other precius items. In late 1960 they found the missing foot of one of them in Istanbul.
Probably the first thing you will notice as you come from the Grand Canl are the two Byzantine columns (pic 4) that used to be the entrance of the city when there was only sea connection. One of them has a bronze chimaira on the top, a lion with wings that represets San Marco. The other one is a marble statue that represends St Teodore upon a crocodile. Crossing between the two columns supposed to bring bad luck but there are so many tourists obsessed to see San Marco that they always forget about it! :) Anyway, at this site the public executions were taking place.
Facing Basilica San Marco to its left you can see Piazzetta Dei Leoncini, a small square that is named after the two porhyr lions (pic 5) that marks this small square. Doge Alvise Mocenigo gave them as a gift to the city in 1722. At this square is the Palazzo Patriarcale that housed the Venetian patriarchs.
We didn’t return to San Marco until later in the night to see it everything litted and it was beautiful. The weird and funny thing was that it was also full of water! :)
San Marco piazza is heart of Venice. There you can see the main things in the Venice and some of them are:
- San Marco basilica
- Torre dell Orologio (Clock Tower)
- Campanile (Bell Tower)
- The Columns (Saint Mark and Theodore)
- Venice Doge Palace
- Feeding pigeons.........
Where ever you go, you will finally finish on the square San Marco.
This tower and clock lead through to the Merceria, the main path leading into the Piazza. Begun in 1496, the architecture of the tower and mechanics of the clock are both amazing examples of art and craftsmanship of the time.
The clock, besides displaying the time, also shows the phases of the sun and moon and the movement of the sun through the signs of the zodiac.
The bell at the top is struck every hour by 2 bronze moors, cast in 1497. If you’re here on January 6th, you should see the 3 Kings appear from the doors on the side.
The beautiful clock tower is another impressive building at San Marco square. It was bult at the end of the 15th century. Like elsewhere in the world (in Prague etc) the legend says that Paolo and Carlo Rainieri (brothers from Reggio that made the clocks) were blinded by the people of Venice so not to make another nice clock like those! It’s not a normal clock because you can (apart for time) see the zodiac signs and the lunar phase. The clock shows only the hour though so don’t count on it for your dates, it seems the people of Venice were less stressed that era :)
There are two big bronze figures (made in 1497) at the top, the “The Moors” who ring the bell.
I’ve been told that you could go up to the top of the clock tower but it was under renovation during our visit so we watched it from the square (pics 2-3) and we had a bird-eye view from the top of Campanile (pic 1). I don’t know the entrance fee but I guess it’s included at Museo Correr ticket.
The other tower in the Piazza, the Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower), was built between 1496 and 1506.
Legend relates that the makers of the clock slaved away for three years at their project, only to have their eyes put out so that they couldn’t repeat their engineering marvel for other patrons.
In fact the pair received a generous pension – presumably too dull an outcome for the city’s folklorists.
The tower’s roof terrace supports two bronze wild men known as “The Moors”, because of their dark patina. A protracted restoration of the Torre dell’Orologio is drawing to a close; when it’s over, it will be possible to climb up through the innards of the tower, to the terrace from which the Moors strike the hour.
Once regarded by Napoleon as "Europe's finest drawing room," Piazza San Marco is the focal point of social, political and religious life in old Venice, and in today's Venice, a gathering place for thousands of tourists competing for scarce real estate with hundreds of pigeons. It's a great vantage point to admire the Basilica di San Marco, Palazzo Ducale, the Campanile and lesser attractions such as Torre dell'Orologio, Procuratie Nuove and Procuratie Vecchie. The square also serves as the dividing space, albeit a huge one, between two competing "ancient cafés" - Florian and Quadri - whose competition extends beyond the expensive cappuccino to classical music and sometimes a mini-orchestra. If sipping pricey cappuccino is not your cup of tea (pun not intended), enjoy the free music and the lively atmosphere of Piazza San Marco.
Designed by the architect Mauro Codussi in 1496, la Torre dell'Orologio (St Mark's Clocktower) is his most famous work. The structure was initially designed as a tower, but soon after its construction, two side wings were added. The elaborate clock tells the time along with the zodiac signs and the phases of the moon. Above the clock is a statue of the Virgin and above it is the Lion of Saint Mark against a starlit night blue sky. The tower is crowned by a large bronze bell and two figures known as i Mori di Venezia (the Moors of Venice) who ring the bell every hour. La Torre dell'Orologio is located on Piazza San Marco, opposite il Campanile. On my first visit to Venice in Nov 05, the tower was covered in scaffolding for an extensive restoration. The work was completed in 2007.
Called Piazza SAn Marco, it is really a trapezoid shape. It was laid out in 11th century, and after filling in a canal in the 12th, it became an elongated square. This is the most decorated mosaic structure of all time. Besides the famed St. Mark's Basilica and its gold colored tiles(there are a total of 8,000 square meters of mosiac tiles), there is the adjacent Doge's Palace. At the other end of the square is a large building constructed under Napoleon times to hold a ballroom. It is now the Correr Museo, which is a great place to visit, as well as the Archelogical Museo The buildings on either side are the old and new Procurator offices that controlled much of Venice activity. The Campinile is the 325 feet tower related to St. Mark's, and it collapsed in 1902 and rebuilt. The Torre del'Orologio opposite side has been going since 1499. Surrounding the whole area is loggia that holds many shops and restaurants. The archway by the clock is called Mercerie. The entry fee to clock tower is 12 Euro, and seems very pricey
The tower was built by Codussi between 1496 and 1499 and for a decade or so the clock tower stood alone, then four supporting bays were added (two to each side of the larger central tower). In 1755, architect Giorgio Massari brought the side wings over the terraces and added balustrades, while eight columns were added at ground level
The clock (alternatively known as St Mark's Clock Tower or the Moors' Clock Tower) displays the time of day, the dominant sign of Zodiac and the current phase of the moon.
So reliable is the clock, that in 1858 it was made the official timekeeper of Venice - to which every other clock should be set.
Guided tours in English: at 09.00, 10.00 and 11.00 AM on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and at 13.00, 14.00 and 15.00 PM on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Admiring the views from the Loggia of the Basilica there are good views of the Square and in particular the TORRE DELL'OROLOGIO. Unfortunately this clock tower is being renovated - there's always something in scaffolding - but at least the covers give an idea of its appearance. Atop of the the Clock Tower are the MOORS: two bronze statues that owe their name to the dark patina and strike the hour with a hammer on a large central bell.
Update 2005: Clock tower is still under wraps for restoration but the cover has now been changed for one depicting the Eiffel Tower - how absurd :-(( Not only that but a huge money change area stands just in front - ruining the appearancee of the Piazza. It really is being spoilt and its such a shame -seesecond pic for what I mean - the view from the water now is most bizzare.