St. Mark's Square ★★★

A gondola rowing lesson in Venice
Piazza San Marco. (Photo by Scott Ingram)

The pigeon-filled Piazza San Marco in Venice

Piazza San Marco at night.
Piazza San Marco at night. (Photo by Robert Montgomery)
The living room of Venice is a year-round carnival, one of milling tourists, a seemingly endless supply of pigeons, locals relaxing at outdoor café tables, and couples caught up in Venice's romance dancing on the cobblestones to the competing strains of the cafés' live pianists and classical trios. Also, in winter, sometimes it's full of water.

This epicenter of the city is flanked on three sides by a unified 16th-century arcade and anchored by ★★★ St. Mark's, Italy's most mosaicked cathedral. The square is mobbed at midday, but late at night or at dawn it's virtually deserted, an emptiness that brings it to life with a Venetian magic all its own.

One of the best ways to appreciate it is by riding the elevator to the top of the Campanile, the bell tower standing across from the Basilica di San Marco.

The north side of the square is enlivened by the Torre dell'Orologio, a Renaissance clock tower atop which two darkened bronze statues chime the hours. In the square's southwest corner sits the Museo Civico Correr. Just north of it lies the Bacino Orseolo, where many of Venice's gondolas park overnight (cool sight).

(Incidentally: only the main body of the square is, technically, Piazza San Marco. The wing branching south along the Doge's Palace toward the outlet of the Grand Canal is called Piazzetta San Marco. The scrap of open space along the north side of the Basilica of St. Mark's is called Piazetta Leoni.)

Webcam on Piazza San Marco, Venice
A live webcam on Piazza San Marco. F5 to refresh.

Tips & links

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Tours
How long does Piazza San Marco take?

Planning your day: Well, you'll spend plenty of time just walking through this piazza, ringed with tops sights, and mreo time waiting in line for St. Mark's. But do take a little time just to sit here and do nothing, soaking in the atmosphere. Venice itineraries

Is a cafe table worth it?

Yes, the cafes on the piazza are overpriced, but they're worth it for a slowly-sipped cappuccino and a front-row seat to the carnival of Venetian life

Come at night

Be sure to return at night, after dinner, when the moon-slicked piazza shakes off its tired touristy air and cloaks itself in that moody Serenissima magic once again

Nearby sights, dining, hotels

Sights nearby
★★★ St. Marks' Basilica (church)
★★★ Palazzo Ducale (palace)
★★★ Grand Canal (sight)
Campanile di San Marco (bell tower)
Museo Civico Correr (museum)
Torre dell'Orologio (clock tower)
Giardinetti Reali (park)
Bacino Orseolo (gondola parking lot)

Where to eat nearby
★★★ Bistrot de Venise [meal]
Da Aciugheta [meal/pizza]
★★ Osteria a la Campana [light meal]
★★ Vino Vino [light meal]
Rosticceria Teatro Goldoni [light meal/snack]

Hotels nearby
RR Hotel Danieli (splurge)
RR Hotel ai do Mori (moderate)
RR Hotel Violino d'Oro (moderate)
RR Hotel Metropole [premier]
RR Hotel La Residenza [cheap]
RR Foresteria Valdese [super-cheap]
RR Hotel Caneva [super-cheap]

» More hotels in San Marco from Venere.com
» More hotels in San Marco from Booking.com

Venice links & resources

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Details
Nearby
Sights nearby
★★★ St. Marks' Basilica (church)
★★★ Palazzo Ducale (palace)
★★★ Grand Canal (sight)
Campanile di San Marco (bell tower)
Museo Civico Correr (museum)
Torre dell'Orologio (clock tower)
Giardinetti Reali (park)
Bacino Orseolo (gondola parking lot)

Where to eat nearby
★★★ Bistrot de Venise [meal]
Da Aciugheta [meal/pizza]
★★ Osteria a la Campana [light meal]
★★ Vino Vino [light meal]
Rosticceria Teatro Goldoni [light meal/snack]

Hotels nearby
RR Hotel Danieli (splurge)
RR Hotel ai do Mori (moderate)
RR Hotel Violino d'Oro (moderate)
RR Hotel Metropole [premier]
RR Hotel La Residenza [cheap]
RR Foresteria Valdese [super-cheap]
RR Hotel Caneva [super-cheap]

» More hotels in San Marco from Venere.com
» More hotels in San Marco from Booking.com


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