Located in the heart of the city, St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy is a popular tourist destination for people interested in spectacular architecture and the history of the region. Many important structures stand guard over the square and lure visitors from all over the world.
The Square has played an important role in the cultural evolution of the city. The Doge’s Palace and the Basilica of San Marco have hosted important civil and religious ceremonies for centuries. Today, the Piazza San Marco, as it known by locals, is the main symbol of Venice.
The square overlooks the water and features many architectural styles. Some of the more famous structures are the marble saloon, the Sansoviniana Bookshop, the Procurator’s residence and the bell tower.
One ancient tradition involves the city’s most prominent citizens and the Doge sailing to the Lido Port in the Adriatic Sea on Ascension Day. A symbolic ring is thrown into the water to signify the everlasting union between the water and the city.
The History of St. Mark’s Square
Built during the 9th century, the Piazza originally occupied space in front of St. Mark’s Basilica. At the time, the Basilica was a small chapel associated with the Doge’s Palace. Several trees were planted throughout the square.
The Rio Batario was a small canal separating the palace from the Piazza. By 1174, engineers filled in the canal and the popular gathering space was enlarged. In 1267, bricks paved the square in a herringbone pattern. Stone replaced the bricks in 1735 in an elaborate pattern created by an architect named Andrea Tirali. Merchants set up their booths using the design to mark the proper location.
What to See in St. Mark’s Square
Its status as the largest city square in Venice, earns it the piazza designation. Campi is the term used to designate all other squares found in the city. This central gathering place serves an important role in government and local culture and it always has.
St. Mark’s Basilica is the most prominent building in the square. The structure is a fine example of Venetian-Byzantine architecture and incorporates eastern and western elements. Domenico Contarini commissioned the building in 1071. Since 1807, the Church of Gold, as it is known, has served as the seat of the archbishop, otherwise referred to as the Patriarch of Venice.
At 323 feet tall (98.6 meters), the basilica’s bell tower is a separate structure and is one of the city’s most famous landmarks as well as the most recognizable. The current tower was erected in 1912 to replace the original one, which collapsed a decade earlier. The first tower survived nearly eleven centuries before it met its demise.
The Doge’s Palace is a grand Gothic building facing the lagoon. The original construction project was completed during the 1400s but the structure was damaged by fire during 1574. Builders later reconstructed the damaged areas.
The National Library of St. Mark’s, the Correr Museum and the Museum of Archaeology are other important structures surrounding the square. Many tourists seek out these buildings to admire the structures and explore the wonders held within. The Procuratie Vecchie, built during the 12th century, served as housing and business quarters for the procurators. The Procuratie Nuovo went up during the mid-1600s to provide additional office space.
The little piazza, or Piazzetta San Marco, is nestled between the library and the palace and serves as a gateway to Venice. Two columns stand there in honor of St. Teodor of Amasea and St. Mark, the city’s two patron saints. Public executions took place in this small square up until the mid-1800s.
The Famous Pigeons of Venice
The pigeons that flock to the square are almost as famous as the many architectural wonders of the city. Many tourists take photographs of the square featuring huge flocks of pigeons begging for food. The birds create a general nuisance and are responsible for damaging the decorative mosaics that grace many buildings including St. Mark’s Basilica. Feeding the pigeons is something the residents and tourists did regularly until the practice was banned recently by local government. Frustration over the damage has led to many attempts to control the pigeons. A few were slightly successful but the overall problem remains.Take In The Sights At Historic St. Marks Square,