Piazza San Marco. Plaza in Venice, Italy

Piazza San Marco

Plaza in Venice, Italy

Piazza San Marco Photo © Adam Smok

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Piazza San Marco

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	Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco. Photo by Scott Ingram
No visit to Venice is complete without visiting the centerpiece of the city, Piazza San Marco. The square is home to a number of the city’s most important buildings, the Saint Mark's Basilica and the Campanile di San Marco. As you’ll have noticed, the city’s patron saint, Saint Mark (or “San Marco” in Italian), is regularly mentioned and honored when it comes to the various buildings around Venice.

The square is one of the most beautiful parts of the city and is hugely impressive. The sort of place that never seems to get less impressive or beautiful, regardless of how many times you get to see it.

Piazza San Marco, Venice - Piazza San
Piazza San Marco, Venice. Photo by Robert Montgomery

The History of Piazza di San Marco

Saint Mark's Basilica
Saint Mark's Basilica
The story of one of Venice’s most important landmarks begins back in the 9th century. Saint Theodore used to be the patron saint of the city until a number of relics of Saint Mark were brought to Venice and it was decided that the city would consider him as their new patron. While the relics are thought to have been stolen, the Venetians didn't seem to have too many concerns. The basilica you see in the square today is the final incarnation of a church that was originally built with the purpose of housing these relics. Before the church was built, the relics had been kept in the Doge's Palace until his death in which his will dictated that the church be built for them.

The church and campanile were both built towards the end of the 9th century and while both the original buildings did not fully survive until today, the buildings that currently stand as their replacements are no less impressive. The original church was significantly damaged in a fire towards the end of the 10th century which happened when the citizens of Venice revolted against the Doge. A brand new version of the church was completed in the 11th century and by the 12th century, the square was looking a lot more like the square you’ll see when you visit today.

During the Fourth Crusade (Wikipedia
	Article), which took place at the start of the 13th century, Venice enjoyed the acquisition of many different valuable artifacts. Most of these artifacts made their way to the city from Constantinople, which had been captured and therefore forced to give up the relics. Since the works completed on the palace during the 14th century, there were not many major improvements made in the years that followed as they would have been deemed unnecessary and expensive given the expense that had been incurred already.

Procuratie Vecchie (Venezia, Italia) -
	Piazza San Marco
Procuratie Vecchie (Venezia, Italia) - Piazza San Marco. Photo by Bokeh & Travel

Getting to the Piazza San Marco

When it comes to transport, Venice is one of the few cities in the world that has almost no roads. Getting to the city itself isn’t too difficult but getting around the city can become very difficult if you don’t know the city or don’t have a map. Be sure to look for the signs for Piazza San Marco, one of the few destinations in the city that are signposted.

By Road

All land traffic in Venice reaches the city at one particular point, the Piazzale Roma (Wikipedia
	Article), the only part of the city with any roads resembling what most people around the world are used to. The bus terminal and the only parking in the city for automobiles can be found in and around the Piazzale Roma.

Although you can drive to Venice, you should try to consider either parking on the mainland and taking another form of transport out to the islands, as you’ll be spending most of your time in Venice walking or making use of the boats around the city.

By Rail

If buying rail tickets online, you should try to avoid the Venezia-Mestre station, which is on the mainland near Venice rather than the city and attraction you’ll probably want to visit. If you do find yourself in the Mestre station, don’t worry! There are plenty of connecting trains running between the station and the Venezia Santa Lucia station.

By Sea

You can get to Venice from cruise ships and ferries if you happen to be lucky enough to already be in the Mediterranean. As a popular tourist destination, it’s hardly surprising that plenty of boats make their way to the ports there.

By Air

If you’re heading to the Piazza San Marco from another country, the quickest and simplest way to get there is by taking a plane. Venice’s airport, the Marco Polo Venice Airport, is actually on the mainland as understandably there is nowhere near enough free space on the islands to build an airport. You needn't worry about the airport’s distance from the city as there are plenty of shuttles and connecting services from the airport to the city. The shuttle buses that take you to the main attractions, like all road traffic heading in to Venice, will take you only as far as the Piazzale Roma, the only part of the city with any roads. The buses take between twenty minutes and half an hour to reach the city.

If you want to go directly from the airport to Piazza San Marco, you can do so by taking a boat from the airport’s pier directly to Saint Mark’s Square. This journey takes around an hour and a quarter and is advisable if you won’t feel like walking the distance from Piazzale Roma to Piazza San Marco.

On Foot

When in Venice, you should make sure that you bring comfortable shoes, as you’ll be spending a lot of your time walking. However, there are always options for when your legs tire. Consider taking either water taxis or the vaporettos, which act as the cities urban transport network through the canals of this unique city. You can also head out on a gondola but this is more of an activity than a feasible form of transport.

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Author: JP_Translation. Last updated: May 19, 2015

Pictures of Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco & The Doge Palace - Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco & The Doge Palace - Photo by Brian Koprowski

Italy-1248 - St Mark's Basilica - Piazza San Marco
Italy-1248 - St Mark's Basilica - Piazza San Marco. Photo by Dennis Jarvis


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