What to See in Venice: San Marco Sights and Attractions:
As the centre of politics and the judiciary, San Marco is where the powerhouses of Venice are located. The Palazzo Ducale and Basilica di San Marco are on Piazza San Marcoand within the square itself are the most important and recognizable symbols of Venice.
The attractions below are those that are on or near Piazza San Marco and the other San Marco attractions, off the square, are on the next page.
Saint Mark’s Basilica
The Basilica di San Marco is the most famous of Venice churches and is an awe-inspiring example of Byzantine Venetian architecture. This opulent Basilica was originally the Doge’s chapel and it only became the city’s cathedral in 1807 when it became the seat of the Archbishop of Venice. St Mark’s Basilica is also the mausoleum for Saint Mark, the patron saint, whose life is narrated in the golden mosaics on the walls.
Piazza San Marco
Saint Mark’s Square is the main square in Venice and has been the centre of Venetian life since the days of the Republic. As the political and judicial heart of Venice, the square is home to many imposing monuments and structures such as the Doge’s Palace, St Mark’s Basilica and the nearby Campanile.
The Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) is one of the main landmarks of Venice. This was the residence of the Doge and the seat of the main government departments. The Venetian Republic was ruled from the Doge’s Palace and the building is still one of the greatest expression of Venetian art. The main entrance was the impressive Porta della Carta, an enchanting example of floral Gothic style that contains two bronze well-curbs. The courtyard is surrounded by porticoes with a top loggia.
Campanile di San Marco
This towering structure stands at 99 metres high and its spire was once a lighthouse for shipping. It was originally built in the 12th century on a site that was thought to have been a watchtower. It was rebuilt in the 16th century and the belfry and spire were added on with Archangel Gabriel topping the spire. You can go up the belfry for a spectacular bird’s eye view of Venice and its lagoons.
Torre dell’Orologio – The Clock Tower
This ornate Renaissance Clock Tower (Torre dell’Orologio) is on the north side of the Piazza over the archway which leads to the Mercerie, the road that leads from Saint Mark’s Square to the Campo di San Bartolomeo. The name Mercerie refers to the many shops on both sides of it.
The Museo Archeologico is on the south side of the Piazza. Amongst other things, it houses the famous collections by Domenico Grimani, son of Doge Antonio Grimani, and by his nephew Giovanni. Domenico Grimani bequeathed to the State his entire collection of Greek, Roman and earlier sculptures, as well as his library.