Piazza San Marco

St Marks Square Night
St Marks Square Night

Piazza San Marco has served as the center of Venice for centuries. Often referred to as St Mark's Square by English-speaking visitors, this large urban area is the main landmark in the city and is easily the most heavily trafficked area for both tourists and residents of Venice. This beautifully designed area has been written about through the centuries as being one of the loveliest urban gathering places in Europe. Napoleon is credited with giving it the designation, “the drawing room of Europe.”

St Marks Square Bell Tower
St Marks Square Bell Tower

Because of how historic this location is, and the fact that many of the most popular attractions in the city are located within St Mark's Square, depending upon the time of the year, it can get pretty crowded to say the least. Despite this fact, no matter when you visit Venice, you absolutely have to visit the square. There are simply too many must-see attractions, and no trip to Venice is complete without gazing upon the amazing Basilica San Marco and the St Mark's Square Clock Tower (campanile in Italian). You can save yourself some hassle and have a much more pleasurable time, however, if you visit during the off season months. May through September just tends to get a bit too hairy for some folks, while many travelers view fellow travelers as just a part of visiting a new destination. No matter what time of the year you visit, the Basilica, the Campanile, and the Doge's Palace remain impressive and alluring attractions.

St Mark's Square Aerial
St Mark's Square Aerial

The section of Venice that is now the Piazza San Marco began being developed all the way back in the ninth century, right in front of where the Basilica San Marco now stands. A series of events led to its expansion in 1177, chief of which was the filling of the Rio Batario, bordering it to the west and separating it from the Doge’s Palace. All of this was done because Pope Alexander III was to meet the visiting Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Even then, nearly 1,000 years ago, the Piazza San Marco was the main gathering place for the people of Venice. It has always been the center of activity for government and business in the city, and to this day, is the site of many important administrative offices, government buildings, and museums.

St Marks Square Clock Tower
St Marks Square Clock Tower

Not only is the St Mark's Square Clock Tower located in the Piazza San Marco, but also alluring destinations such as the Correr Museum and the National Museum of Archaeology. The Doge’s Palace is certainly not an attraction you want to miss, and of course the St Mark's Square Clock Tower cannot be missed, as it is one of the most distinguishing landmarks in the entire piazza, along with the legendary and ancient Basilica San Marco.

Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco

St Mark's Square is one of the quintessential Venetian hotspots. If you are traveling to Venice for the first time, it is likely that much of your sightseeing activities will be centered around the Grand Canal and the Piazza San Marco. There are many exciting attractions as well as plenty of accommodations, restaurants, and cafes nearby. It is free to walk around the piazza and enter the Basilica as well as the Doge’s Palace. It is only a modest fee to climb the stairs and go up into the Campanile.

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