St. Mark’s Square
Piazza San Marco
This is my first post about our trip to Italy this summer. I started out with a small note pad feverishly jotting down tidbits of information about the history, the culture and such. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was duplicating what so many have done before me. If you’re reading this, I think it is safe to assume that you’re Google ready and can read about the history, culture and architecture since there is an abundance of that information available. I will be brief for that reason and being a visual person, I prefer to share my photos.
The Piazza San Marco is the principal public square of Venice. Representing the social, political and religious aspects of their culture. Within the square you will find Doge’s Palace facing the Basilica. The buildings completing the square were once used as government official housing but today it is used for shops, cafe’s and museums.
We found that the most popular places to visit were extremely crowded since we came on the cusp of vacation season. If I were lucky enough to go again, I would visit in May.
Forget high fashion in the shoe department. Cobble stone walkways, the lovely bridges, and the many stairs you will be climbing scream for sensible shoes. I walked proudly in my sundress and tennis shoes and my feet stayed comfy.
I have a love hate relationship with the idea of a tour guide. Yes, you get some inside information and you have the opportunity to ask questions which is great. The guides have a microphone set and we were handed earphones that connected to her via blue tooth so we could hear over all the other people visiting. Our guide was good at pointing out the most important elements and explaining in detail about the craftsmanship of the building. In addition, we did find that by having a tour guide we were allowed to by passed the long lines to enter. The downside was being herded at the guides pace. I lost her a couple of times because I paused too long to observe and with a guided group, that doesn’t work out so well.
St. Mark’s Square/Piazza San Marco
Beautiful Byzantine architecture! It is the Cathedral Church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice.
The piazzata is almost easy to miss given the surrounding buildings but it has a very important historical significance. Three pillars were shipped from Constantinople in the 12th century by the Venetians. One fell into the lagoon and to this day they are attempting to retrieve it. The two that remain intact took decades to erect due to the weight and size. Standing on the left pillar is a statute of St. Theodore of Amasea, the first protector of the city. On the right, a winged lion known as the Lion of Venice, a symbolic depiction of St. Mark who was an evangelist patron of the Republic of Venice.
From here you can also see the Island of San Giorgio. Monet included the island in one of his series of paintings! The Palladion Church is one of the most notable landmarks. Once a monastery, in the 19th century the Republic fell and the island became a free port in1812 and became home to Venice’s artillery. Today you can visit the Cini Foundation Arts Center and enjoy the open air theatre.
Can you spot the Venetians? They would be the people NOT walking between the pillars! Superstition is still alive and well and it is thought to bring bad luck to walk between them. For many it was a reality because in the 18th century, this became the site for public executions.
Once inside the Basilica, you will quickly understand why it earned the nickname of Chiesa d’ Oro, Church of Gold. The importance of such a display portrayed the power and wealth of the city.
The mosaic art was incredible throughout the Basilica. Some pieces were about the size of my pinky nail handcrafted without the use of tools.
Blue paint was very expensive and rare. The color alone makes a statement about the power and wealth of the city.
This pillar was one of a pair and also why it is easy to loose your guide. The room was breathtaking and I got left behind trying to take it all in.
It’s not a fantastic picture but I really want to show the contrast of materials and craftsmanship on display.
The windows were in desperate need of a good cleaning but I managed to catch a glimpse of a gondolier passing by.
Beware of the neck cramp which happens because the ceilings are magnificent!
My visit to St. Mark’s Basilica was truly amazing! The history is both wondrous and dark but what we enjoy today, simply put, is beauty.