St Marks Square is the center of Venice and a must visit site during your trip. This post is going to be relatively short and just go over a few things related to St Marks Square, what’s there, and things to look out for.
- Getting there
- What to see
- What to look out for
Getting to Saint Marks Square
Getting to St Marks Square is fairly simple and will depend on preference. Looking from the overhead view, it’s clear that St. Marks Square is right by the Grand Canal. So if you aren’t looking to trek through Venice and want to get there quickly, a ferry or boat can be taken to get there faster.
If you’re like us and enjoy adventuring through the city to get there, you can also just map out a route from your hotel, Airbnb, or wherever you decide to stay in Venice. It’s also not a large un-walkable city, we made it to most of our destinations with plenty of time to spare, and that’s with getting sidetracked constantly.
St Marks Square History
Known as the Piazza San Marco, St Mark’s Square has been around since the 9th century when it was a bit smaller. Eventually it was expanded and became used commonly for merchants to sell goods and a city center. It is has always been surrounded by important government and other central buildings due to it being a central meeting place for the city. A lot of the history of the square is within those buildings surrounding it, so let’s get into what there is to see while you’re there!
Sites in St Marks Square
I loved every moment of being in the square and we were also there during some light flooding of the square. Nothing dangerous, just enough to look REALLY COOL at shin height and wade through.
St Marks Basilica
A great must see and if you don’t have time to explore all sites around the square, at least go here (and Doge’s Palace). It’s a Roman Catholic Church with amazing architecture and historical significance. Also, entrance is free but a skip the line ticket can be bought to avoid long waiting lines to get in.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’re visiting the Basilica, wear non-revealing attire since it’s a catholic church and if you’re a women and your shoulders are showing, they won’t let you in. There’s also way too much history and significance to cover in a short paragraph so I encourage you to read more about it here!
Once a palace for the Doge’s who controlled the city of Venice, it now acts as a museum that offers exhibitions about Venice’s history and even offers special tours! It’s not free though, you do need to purchase a ticket to enter but it’s more than worth the cost. And while visiting the Doge Palace isn’t an all-day event, do plan to spend some time in there as it’s not the quickest walk-through.
St Marks Campanile
Once a lighthouse for ships entering the city, St Marks Campanile is now a viewing tower roughly 100 meters high overlooking the city of Venice. The Campanile also has a rich history despite being what would appear to be a lonely tower in the square. It was used throughout history for several purposes and was even used by Galileo as an observatory to study the skies. Today you can ascend the tower for only 8 euros per person, which in my opinion is well worth it!
This is less of an attraction to enter like the Campanile, and more of a simple sight to behold while in the square. Linn and I spent some time getting multiple pictures of the Procuratie as it’s one of Venice’s most historically significant building (well collection of buildings). It may not have significant events attached to it, but the Procuratie Vecchie housed many of Venice’s historically notable personnel and provided offices for them. These were the buildings where decisions were made and the everyday lives of Venice’s decision makers were carried out.
On the upper floors of the Procuratie, this museum houses some of Venice’s most breathtaking art and history. While there is a bit to take in and enjoy, visiting the Museo Correr is not an all day endeavor, making it a perfect addition for doing a quick tour through the square.
Venice National Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum is a great place if you’re a fan of history, but the museum itself is rather historic. Founded in 1523, the museum housed numerous sculptures and has since been expanded to numerous exhibits. It’s also conveniently located next to the Museo Correr, so if you wanted to make a it a back to back visit, then no problem!
Bridge of Sighs
What appears to be a simple bridge is world renowned and recognized by many and noted due to its history. The bridge had a practical use in the 1600’s as it connected the buildings where prisoners would sleep and the building where they were given exams. Hence the name of the bridge, as prisoners would ‘sigh’ as they crossed it and caught glimpses of Venice. Truly a powerful experience to walk and explore the surrounding palace.
What to look out for in Venice
On top of the numerous sites to see and wonderful food to indulge in, there are some things to be on the lookout for while you’re walking through Venice.
To begin with, most cities with a heavy tourist focus mean plenty of foot traffic. A lot of people try to monetize on this by selling goods on the streets at discount prices or by performing. Try your best to not get pulled into anything and just walk past anyone that may seem a bit pushy. Simply be kind and decline any offers that don’t interest you.
Overall the city of Venice is very safe, and I highly encourage having a physical map of Venice to avoid possibly getting lost or turned around, as your phone service may be spotty. Aside from that, just enjoy the sites and let us know how your trip went!