Piazza San Marco, known in English as the St. Mark’s Square, is so famous that it does not need another presentation. A collection of religious, cultural, historical symbols, and a symbol in itself, this square is the dream of millions of tourists who are preparing to travel. Whoever you ask about Venice, or even better about the most important place in Venice, that person would give you one answer: Piazza San Marco.
During the 9th century, Piazza San Marco was just a small free area in front of the St. Mark’s Basilica. It was enlarged to the present form only in 1177, when the two canals that crossed it were filled. This change was made with the occasion of the visit of Pope Alexander III and Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, who met in Venice to sign a truce.
The square was paved for the first time in the second part of the 12th century, and the pavement was changed only six centuries later, in 1723. The design was the work of the architect Andrea Tirali. The pavement was restored in 1890, keeping the model used by Tirali.
In 1797, Venice was under French occupation, and the Procuratie Nuove building became the residence of the Emperor Napoleon and his stepfather, Eugene de Beauharnais. Napoleon built a new wing, called Ala Napoleonica, facing towards Basilica di San Marco.
Piazza San Marco gathers invaluable structures, such as the Doge’s Palace, the St. Mark’s Basilica with its impressive architecture, the Clock Tower (Torre dell’Orologio), the Sansovino National Library (Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana), the Procuratie wings, today home to the Correr Museum, and last but not least, the St. Mark’s Bell Tower (Campanile di San Marco), from where a splendid panorama of Venice can be admired.
HOW TO GET THERE
If you want to reach Piazza San Marco on foot, pay attention to the arrows marked on the walls of the buildings, with the inscription per San Marco (to San Marco).
To reach the San Marco Square on water, with a vaporetto, use either ACTV Line 1 or Line 2 to San Marco Vallaresso, or any of ACTV Lines 1, 2, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2 to the San Zaccaria stop.