Piazza San Marco is the main tourist destination of the city of Venice, as well as the only real square in the city, since the other urban spaces are called “fields”.
Piazza San Marco, before becoming what it is now, was the garden of the nearby convent of San Zaccaria, and its construction began in the 9th century, to have a small space in front of the Basilica of San Marco, already present at the time . It was extended, taking its current shape and size, in 1177, when the Batario River which bounded it to the west flooded it. The reconstruction was carried out for the meeting of Pope Alexander III and the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.
It was paved at the end of the 13th century even if it underwent several renovations over the centuries.
The square has always been the center of Venice, as well as the seat of all the most important buildings in the city, as well as the hub of many festivals.
Floods have an important role in the history of the square, as this is the lowest point in the city. Then when the high water phenomenon occurs, the authorities set up walkways to be able to pass through the square.
The beautiful Basilica of San Marco in St Mark’s Square, Venice. Italy. (foto © Shutterstock.com)
The San Marco Square
About 80 meters wide and 170 meters long, Piazza San Marco has a rather irregular shape, almost trapezoidal and can be divided into three areas: the square itself, enclosed between the buildings where the prosecutors of Venice lived, called Procuratie, the Piazzetta, which is located in front of the Doge’s Palace and the Library on the Grand Canal, and finally the Piazzetta dei Leoncini, next to the Basilica and facing Palazzo Patriarcale, which takes its name from the two statues of crouching lions that delimit the raised area that characterizes it.
Buildings in Piazza San Marco
Several important buildings overlook St. Mark’s Square, including the Doge’s Palace, the Clock Tower, the Basilica of the same name and the Campanile that stands next to it. On the upper terrace of the Clock Tower, in Renaissance style, there are two bronze statues depicting two Moors touching the hours. We must not forget the Old and New Procuratie, the Napoleonic Wing, the Marciana Library and the Casa della Moneta, which directly overlooks the Grand Canal.
The low floor of the Procuradorias is mainly occupied by cafes, including the very famous Caffè Florian and the Gran Caffè Quadri, super chic environments. Finally, among the buildings that overlook the square, one cannot forget the Archeology Museum and the Correr Museum, the latest ones. The square finally opens onto the canal through the Piazzetta, a square space where executions took place and which is accessed by granite columns crowned by a lion (the symbol of St. Mark) and by San Teodoro, brought from Constantinople.
Aerial view of St Mark’s Square with the famous Campanile in the centre of Piazza San Marco, in Venice, Veneto, Italy. (foto © Shutterstock.com)
Activities in Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco has always been the hub of activity for the entire Venetian state and has therefore followed its traditions and customs. Some examples: Palazzo Ducale was the seat of government and justice, as well as a prison; laws and decrees were promulgated from the Pietra del Bando, which were then posted at the Porta della Carta; the Basilica was obviously the religious center of the city and of the whole state, mainly thanks to the precious relics kept there. Moreover, the square was the seat of tournaments, markets and fairs, and also from here various religious and non-religious processions were started. In the eighteenth century, instead, began the construction of the numerous cafes and the festivities of the Carnival of Venice.
Text: Tomaso @ Italien.blog
St Mark’s Square, Granite Column with the Venetian Lion, Venice, Veneto, Italy (foto © Shutterstock.com)