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Nov 14, 2018
Piazza San Marco is in the heart of Venice. San Marco Square is where everyone gathers and most visitors go here first. Famous buildings in the piazza are: St Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Museo (Museum) Correr, the Basilica’s bell tower, and the Torre dell’ Orologio. The Basilica and Doge’s Palace were the two places I toured.
Depending on the time of day, there may or may not be water in the square since it is the lowest point in Venice, it depends on the tide whether it is high tide or not. There is “minor” flooding that goes on regularly but there are times where there is major temporary flooding. The Adriatic Sea tide rises and it is an issue when the sea level rises over 90 cm.
I was lucky that I missed the recent flooding. Its was the worst flooding in 22 years! I found out from other travelers that when they were there, some places had water that was waist high.
In front of the square are water bus stops and water taxis. There are also many gondolas available here. Going north of the square, the streets are narrow and full of shops and restaurants. The Rialto Bridge is not too far from the square, so it's an easy walk.
St. Mark's Cathedral is the focal point of the square. It is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Venice. If you’re into Byzantine architecture, this is a perfect example of the grouping of smaller domes and a large central one.
The cathedral is open to the public, and I’d recommend a tour. It’s worth the wait and when there is water in the square, there’s an elevated platform to stand on while waiting in line. Interestingly enough, when returning the audio guide, I noticed water coming into part of the cathedral.
The cathedral shows the massive wealth of Venice over centuries, there is so much gold that adorns the ceiling and mosaics. The cathedral is massive, and there’s so much to look at! The most notable are the many mosaics, 85,000 square feet of mosaic art to be exact.
There were no photos allowed in the interior but I did get some photos of the bronze horses. After touring the first flook, it’s worth going up to see the horses and the view of the square.
Until 1797, the Doges ruled the Venetian Empire and Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale) and of course they wanted to demonstrate their power and wealth. The palace is very ornate and houses some of the best art in Venice. Inside the palace are paintings by Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese.
It was a wonderful experience climbing the grand staircases, view the Doge's apartments and the government chambers with a palace tour. I had the walk over the Bridge of Signs on the trip itinerary. The sighs, were the inmates who crossed the bridge before being taken to the cramped quarters of the prison cells.
Looking out through the windows of the Bridge of Sighs has some of the best views of Venice in my opinion. A grand view of the Grand Canal, island of San Giorgio and Ponte della Paglia was absolutely stunning.
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