Venice / Attractions / Piazza San Marco

Saint Mark's Square Venice

Piazza San Marco, the most famous square in Venice

Saint Mark's Square

Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark's Square, is one of the most famous sights in Venice, including the Saint Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace.

Visit Piazza San Marco

The famous Piazza San Marco (or Saint Mark's Square) of Venice is located in the San Marco district. The square dates back to the 12th century and is surrounded by several sights. If you are departing from your accommodation by boat, the nearest canals are the Canal Grande, Rio del Palazzo and Rio di San Moise. At the square you will then see the beautiful surrounding galleries and at the very other end of the square you will see the Saint Mark's Basilica and the Campanile or Bell Tower. You may even see a tip of the Doge's Palace, which is to the right of the basilica and for which the square continues towards the Grand Canal.

Basilica di San MarcoThe Basilica di San Marco
St Marks SquareSt. Mark's Square from the Campanile di Venezia

Places to visit at Piazza San Marco

1. St. Mark's Basilica

The Basilica di San Marco with its imposing domes and grandiose decorative elements will impress you both outside and inside. From Saint Mark's square you can take a moment to relax and view the size and spectacle of the church. An (extremely expensive) cup of coffee on the terrace is of course also possible and when you have finished the exterior of the basilica, it is time to go inside. As soon as you enter the doors and look forward from the center of the hallway, you will be amazed. All the splendor, the images, the colors and the materials used, it is breathtakingly beautiful. In addition, there are the mosaics with Christian scenes that are depicted. And what about the domes with the small windows through which some light gently flows into the basilica? The amount of time and effort that was put into these kinds of churches centuries ago cannot be expressed in money.

More info St. Mark's Basilica

Doge's PalaceThe Doge's Palace near the square
Piazza San MarcoThe Campanile, the large bell tower on Saint Mark's Square

2. Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace)

Where the Canal Grande meets the southern part of San Marco square, you will find the Doge's Palace (or Palazzo Ducale in Italian). A doge was a head of state at a time when Venice was still a republic and not a city. The Palazzo Ducale was the home of the Doge, but the same building also housed political institutions. Various fires have ravaged the palace, but the damage has always been repaired, sometimes with new influences from that period. The Doge's Palace has been a public museum since 1923 and in this palace you can admire another special attraction, namely the Bridge of Sighs (or Ponte dei Sospiri). This bridge forms a passage to the prison on the other side of the Rio del Palazzo. The Doge's Palace is not only impressive because of the architecture of the building itself, the various art collections are also worth a visit.

More info Doge's Palace

3. Campanile (Bell Tower)

This brick tower dates from the 16th century and is open to the public. From the top of the tower you have a wonderful view over Venice, with in the immediate vicinity of the tower St. Mark's Square, the Saint Mark's Basilica and the Canal Grande. A visit is highly recommended, especially on a bright day with blue sky or with a beautiful sunset. From a distance, the tower may not seem very special, but have a look at the upper part of the Campanile. Once you've found the transition from the orange brick to the white part, this tower becomes even more interesting. The columns with arches, the decorations even higher in the tower, with the green roof and at the very top the golden angel. You may want to add another pair of binoculars to your luggage before you leave, so that you won't miss these details and can see in great detail.

More info Campanile

4. Torre dell'Orologio

This clock tower is located on the north side of St. Mark's Square, close to the Basilica. Standing in front of the basilica and looking to the left, you can't miss the large clock on top of the tower. There are two copper figures that strike the clock. In the evening the clock tower is even easier to discover, because then the entire upper part with the clock is well lit. In addition to the clock, the facade of this tower is also interesting. The sky blue and gold decorations contrast beautifully with the columns at either end of the tower. You will also notice the winged lion and the astronomical clock. When the clock tower is open to visitors, you will see a very imposing mechanical work that operates the clock. Under this magnificent tower you will also find a passage to the Merceria, one of the main shopping streets in Venice.

Torre dell'OrologioThe clock of Torre dell'Orologio
San MarcoThere are a number of museums in this corner of Saint Mark's Square

5. Museum combi - 3 museums of Piazza San Marco

With your ticket to the Doge's Palace you also get access to the museum which is a combination of three museums: the Museo Correr, the archaeological museum and Bibliotheca Nazionale Marciana. When you enter the Museo Correr, you automatically make a route through the three different museums:

- Museo Correr

In this museum you can observe works of art and furniture dating back to the 13th century. But make no mistake, because this museum also has a special interior. The ceilings, floors, doors, lighting, wallpaper and even curtains will catch your eye when you visit the Correr museum. So it's not just about the collection that the museum exhbits, because the colors and materials of the building will also surprise you.

- Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Venezia

This museum houses Egyptian, Roman, Babylonian and Greek statues and other remains of artistic value. Most of the works of art and artifacts have been donated from the 16th century by Venetian families, who had the works in their private collection. In the National Archaeological Museum you can use a free audio guide that you can download on your mobile phone or tablet.

- Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana

Just like every library exudes a certain peace and tranquility, you will find this in Bibliotheca Nazionale Marciana too. During your tour of the museums you will visit the monumental room of the library; a beautiful space.

Museo Correr VeniceInside of Museo Correr
Piazza San Marco VeneziaThe Archaeological Museum of Venice

6. The Royal Venetian Gardens

The Giardini Reali di Venezia can be found by walking across San Marco square towards the Canal Grande. Before you reach the canal, turn right. You will leave the Doge's Palace behind you and you will automatically see the greenery of the Royal Gardens. These gardens are a small resting place, where you can make use of the benches and walking paths. In the summer months, the blue and white Agapanthus are nice to look at. They are the favorite flower in the Giardini Reali di Venezia and they are loved to be photographed. Shade spots can also be found when the sun is high in the sky. You can also find several piers close to these gardens, from where you can catch a boat, such as the vaporetto to Lido, Murano or San Giorgio Maggiore. Are you ready for a real tourist activity? Then board here for the gondola and make a cruise on the many beautiful canals that Venice has to offer.

Where is St. Mark's Square in Venice?

Venice square
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