Visiting St. Mark's Square in Venice

St. Mark's Basilica St. Mark's Square

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St. Mark's Basilica Skip-the-Line Guided Tour
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45 min. - 1 hr.
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Walking Tour of Venice with Priority Entry to St. Marks Basilica
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2 hr. 30 min.
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Venice Icons: St. Mark’s Basilica & Doge’s Palace Skip-the-Line Guided Tour
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1 hr. 30 min. - 2 hr. 30 min.
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Venice Walking Tour with St. Mark's Basilica & Doge's Palace Guided Tour
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3 hr. 30 min.
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St. Mark's Basilica Guided Tour with Gondola Ride
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2 hr.
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St. Mark's Basilica Night Tour with Optional Doge's Palace
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1 hr. 30 min. - 3 hr.
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Doge's Palace Guided Tour
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50 min. - 1 hr. 15 min.
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Skip The Line Tickets to Doge's Palace with Guide Book
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Flexible Duration
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St. Mark's Square - Hub of famous Venetian landmarks

St. Mark's Square, or Piazza San Marco, is the principal public square in Venice, Italy. Regarded as the social, religious, and political center of the city, it is often referred to as the "drawing room of Europe." The square is surrounded by prominent landmarks such as St. Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace, Museo Correr, the Campanile (bell tower), and the Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower). It serves as a cultural hub and a gathering place for locals and tourists alike, offering a unique blend of historical significance and architectural splendor.

St. Mark's Square | Quick facts

St. Mark's Square with Campanile at Sunset in Venice
  • Location: Venice, Italy
  • Designation: Principal public square
  • Nickname: "Drawing room of Europe"
  • Key landmarks: St. Mark's Basilica, Doge's Palace, Museo Correr, Campanile (Basilica’s Bell Tower), Torre dell’Orologio (St. Mark’s Clock Tower)
  • Cultural Significance: Social, religious, and political center of Venice.
  • UNESCO site since: 1987

Why visit St. Mark's Square?

Gothic architecture evolution
  • Witness to history: Stand on the historic ground that has witnessed major events in Venice's past. Imagine the political gatherings, ceremonies, and festivities that unfolded in this timeless square.
  • Proximity to attractions: The Square serves as a central point, making it convenient to explore other nearby attractions, ensuring a comprehensive Venetian experience.
  • Cultural hub: Partake in Venice's vibrant cultural scene, with the square serving as a hub for events, festivals, and open-air performances - a taste of Venetian arts and traditions.
  • Gothic architecture evolution: Marvel at the intricate details of St. Mark's Basilica, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, and uncover the stories behind its unique mosaics and designs.

Plan your visit to St. Mark's Square

Opening hours
Opening hours

Top things to do in St. Mark's Square

historic columns at St. Mark's Square

1. Get clicked with the historic columns

Visit the historic columns at the open end of St. Mark's Square, featuring St. Theodore (a copy of the original in the Doge's Palace) and a lion, symbols of protection. From the 12th century, they gained popularity, hosting public executions in the 18th century. To honor tradition, avoid passing between the columns, associated with public trials and miracles throughout history.

St. Mark's Basilica's REAL gold mosaics
Campanile for the view

3. Climb the Campanile for the views

Gaze in awe at Venice's panoramic beauty from the Campanile di San Marco, the city's tallest structure. Enjoy stellar views of the Doge's Palace, St. Mark's Basilica, the Venetian Lagoon, Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge, and the Bridge of Sighs. Elevate your experience with the convenience of an elevator, avoiding strenuous stair climbs.

historic cafes

4. Grab a bite at historic cafes

Indulge in the timeless charm of historic cafes at Piazza San Marco, deemed as the 'drawing room of Europe' by Napolean. Caffe Florian, founded in 1720, epitomizes Venetian coffee culture, hosting luminaries with an opulent interior and live orchestra on the terrace. Cafe Quadri, a Belle Epoque gem, features antique decor, transporting you to Venice's Golden Age.

the majestic horses
Enjoy the Venetian nightlife

6. Enjoy the Venetian nightlife

Experience the vibrant nightlife of St. Mark's Square as the sun sets and the weather cools. Stroll amid renowned cafes, serenaded by live music from various bands. The square emerges as the prime nocturnal destination in Venice, featuring beautiful play of lights, iconic monuments, and delightful temperatures.

Interesting facts about St. Mark's Square

Venice's low point

1. Venice's low point

Piazza San Marco, Venice's iconic square, is not just a cultural centrepiece; it's also the city's lowest point, sitting around 90 cm above sea level, supported by 100,000 wooden piles. Prone to flooding, especially during Aqua Alta events, the square submerges in water, creating a unique yet challenging experience for visitors.

Napoleon's impression

2. Napoleon's impression

Napoleon, after conquering Venice in 1797, purportedly called Piazza San Marco "the world’s most beautiful drawing room." While he seized the city's treasures, including gold and precious stones, and left his mark on the square's western side, his legacy, represented by a grand palace, stands as a reminder of Venice's complex history.

No dining allowed

3. No dining allowed

Piazza San Marco has strict rules, including a fine of 100 to 200 euros for consuming food or drink in the square. Sitting on various structures, such as banks, monuments, or steps, is also prohibited. This rule aims to preserve the square's cleanliness and historical integrity, with penalties enforced for violators.

Bell Tower's reconstruction

4. Bell Tower's reconstruction

Venice's famous bell tower, standing at 323 ft (98 m), is an iconic landmark with a surprising history. Originally built in the 9th century, it collapsed in 1902. Through a global fundraising effort, Venice reconstructed the tower in the 20th century, preserving its historical significance as a symbol guiding ships safely and marking daily rhythms.

Basilica's stolen relics
Vanished San Geminiano Church

6. Vanished San Geminiano Church

The Museo Correr once hosted the San Geminiano Church, a 16th-century structure designed by Jacopo Sansovino. Destroyed by Napoleon's stepson in 1807 to build a palace, it held Tintoretto's famed altarpiece. The church's plaque and the altarpiece's relocation to Rubens House in Antwerp serve as reminders of this lost Venetian landmark.

Frequently asked questions about St. Mark's Square

What makes St. Mark's Square significant?

St. Mark's Square, also known as Piazza San Marco, is the principal public square in Venice, Italy. Renowned for its historical and cultural importance, it houses iconic landmarks like St. Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace, and the Campanile. Often referred to as the "drawing room of Europe," it's a focal point for tourists and a symbol of Venetian grandeur.

Why is St. Mark's Basilica famous?

St. Mark's Basilica is famous for its stunning Byzantine architecture, intricate mosaics, and historical significance. It houses the remains of Saint Mark and serves as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power. The Pala d'Oro, a priceless Byzantine altarpiece adorned with precious stones, is a highlight of the basilica.

What can I see in St. Mark's Square?

St. Mark's Square features several must-see attractions, including St. Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace, the Campanile (Bell Tower), and the Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower). Visitors can also explore the Museo Correr, enjoy cafes with live music, and marvel at the architecture that reflects Venice's rich history.

How can I avoid crowds at St. Mark's Basilica?

To avoid crowds at St. Mark's Basilica, consider visiting early in the morning before it opens to the public. Another option is to join a guided tour that offers skip-the-line access, allowing you to explore the basilica without waiting in long queues.

Is photography allowed in St. Mark's Basilica?

Photography is generally allowed in St. Mark's Basilica, but there may be restrictions in certain areas. Flash photography is typically not permitted, and visitors are expected to show respect in this religious space. It's advisable to check for any specific rules or guidelines upon entry.

What are the opening hours of St. Mark's Square attractions?

The opening hours vary for different attractions in St. Mark's Square. St. Mark's Basilica, for example, is open every day, while the Doge's Palace and other museums may have specific operating hours.

Are there wheelchair-accessible facilities at the Square?

St. Mark's Basilica and some surrounding attractions have wheelchair-accessible facilities. The Porta dei Fiori entrance to the basilica features a ramp, and lifts are available for accessing the Museum on the upper floor. Visitors with specific accessibility needs are encouraged to contact staff for assistance.

What is the best time to visit St. Mark's Square?

Early mornings and late evenings are generally the best times to visit St. Mark's Square to avoid the peak daytime crowds. Additionally, visiting during the off-peak seasons, such as late fall or winter, can offer a more serene experience. Check for any special events or festivals that might influence the crowd size during your visit.

How does the Acqua Alta phenomenon impact the Square?

The Acqua Alta phenomenon significantly impacts St. Mark's Square, as it is the lowest point in Venice. During Acqua Alta, which occurs when the sea level rises over 90 cm, the square is prone to flooding, becoming one of the first areas to submerge. Water pours through drain holes in different parts of the square, leading to its temporary inundation several times a year, especially in the winter months.

What cultural events or festivals take place in the Square throughout the year?
What precautions are in place for visitors during Acqua Alta at the Square?

To mitigate the impact of Acqua Alta on visitors, authorities implement several precautions:
- Wooden walkways: Elevated pathways are set up, providing safe navigation through the flooded square without direct water contact.
- Monitoring systems: Water levels are tracked, allowing authorities to anticipate Acqua Alta events and issue alerts.
- Footwear recommendations: Wearing waterproof footwear, like high boots, is advised to keep feet dry.
- Information and assistance: Signage and information points guide visitors, with assistance from local authorities or guides when needed.
- Flexible schedules: Some attractions may adjust hours during Acqua Alta; visitors should check schedules in advance. Authorities aim to ensure safety and convenience, allowing visitors to experience St. Mark's Square's unique atmosphere even during flooding.

How does the square change during the evening hours?

In the evening, St. Mark's Square transforms with vibrant lights, a café atmosphere, illuminated monuments, pleasant temperatures, live music, and a contagious sense of happiness, creating a unique and lively experience.

Is it possible to take a gondola ride from St. Mark's Square?

Yes, it is possible to take a gondola ride from St. Mark's Square. The most popular boarding points are near St. Mark's Basilica and the Grand Canal. Additionally, there are less crowded options like the Jewish Ghetto and Campo San Barnaba for a gondola ride in Venice.