Things to do in Venice

St. Mark’s Square Venice: The Heart of the Floating City

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St. Mark’s Square Venice, locally known as the Piazza San Marco, is the primary public square of Venice, and one of the city’s most popular tourist spots. Being the largest square in city, it also houses important government buildings and other facilities required for the city to function. As is happens, St. Mark’s Square is the only square with the title of "piazza” (the Square) while the rest are called "campo” (field). The square is named after the breathtaking and unique Basilica San Marco that is located on the east end of the square.

With a glowing reputation as one of the finest squares in the world and arguably Venice's primary tourist attraction, St. Mark’s Square has a lot to offer to potential visitors. The square is surrounded on three sides by majestic public buildings and on the fourth side by Basilica di San Marco and it’s flurry of glorious domes and arches. Each view and perspective of St. Mark’s Square offers something new to discover and making the most out of your first visit to "the drawing room of Europe” can be a little hard. Our St. Mark's Square Venice guide has all the information you need and more!

Why Visit St. Mark's Square, Venice

Of all the places to see in Venice, there’s something truly special about a visit to St. Mark’s Square. Rightfully described as “the centre of greatest events, and the social and political centre of Venice”, the Square has a lot to offer in terms of experience, along with a peek into the culture and heritage of Venice. The Basilica of St. Mark has 3 large mast-like flagpoles and the flag of the Republic of Venice, the European flag, and the Italian flag fly from them. Next to the Basilica is the Doge's Palace, the old ruling grounds of the Doges, the rulers of Venice.

On the remaining three sides, St. Mark's Square is surrounded by the Procuratie Vecchie and Procuratie Nuove, which were constructed in the 12th and 16th centuries, respectively. Presently, the Procuratie Nuove is home to the Museo Correr, while popular cafés like the Gran Caffè Quadri and Gran Caffè Lavena are located at the ground floors of the Procuraties. The thin Campanile di San Marco, which functions as the basilica’s bell tower, is one of the square's most identifiable landmarks.

There’s a lot to admire and be appreciative of at St. Mark’s Square and this is just of the tip of the iceberg of what you can experience at this public square.

History of the St. Mark's Square

Constructed in the ninth century, the St. Mark's Square was originally just a small square that was dotted with trees. The original St. Mark’s Basilica, which, at the time, was a small chapel that was part of the Doge’s Palace, was located right in front of the newly constructed square. A small canal separated the Doge’s Palace from St. Mark’s Square.

St. Mark's Square Venice

In 1174, the piazza was enlarged by filling in the aforementioned canal and adjoining dock since it was already becoming a central gathering place for Venetians, and required more space. The square became paved with bricks in a herringbone pattern in 1267, and in 1735 the bricks were replaced with natural stone and laid in a more complicated pattern. This was done following a design created by famed architect Andrea Tirali.

What To See Around St. Mark's Square Venice

There's no shortage of things to see around St. Mark's Square. This bustling Piazza has enough to keep you entertained for hours and we'll take you through the best of St. Mark's Square below. Tick these off your list and consider it all done!

1. Doge's Palace

DOGES PALACE Venice tickets

Located next to St. Mark's Basilica, the Doge’s Palace was once the center of political and administrative power of the Venice Republic. With a striking appearance, Doge’s Palace is the first thing you’ll see when you come to Venice via sea. The palace’s design is much simpler than the basilica’s, with airy interiors and soft colors making it a great architectural foil of the basilica.

Doge's Palace Skip the Line Tickets

• Skip the line tickets to Doge's Palace with 3 or 10 museum variant
• Get a handy guidebook with details of Doge’s Palace, Saint Mark's Basilica, and Saint Mark’s Square.

Skip The Line: Doge's Palace Tickets and Guide Book

• Collect your multilingual guidebook from a nearby book-shop, which not only contains fascinating details on the Doge's Palace and the other gems in St Mark's Square, but also contains useful boat information and a map to get around the city

2. St. Mark's Basilica

St Mark's Basilica Venice tickets

St. Mark’s Basilica is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. One of the most popular churches in the city, St. Mark’s Basilica is also one of the prime showcases of the famed Italo-Byzantine architecture. There are more than 85,000 square feet of mosaic in St. Mark’s Basilica, mostly in gold, and the result is nothing short of breathtaking. Since this basilica is one of the main attractions at St. Mark’s Square, you can expect the place to be crowded throughout the year.

Skip The Line Guided Tour Of St Mark's Basilica

• Skip the hour long queue outside St Mark's Basilica.
• Learn more about the basilica with a dedicated tour guide, and get details of its rich history.
• Explore the island of Murano which is famous for its long tradition of glass-making and enjoy a complimentary glassblowing tour as well.

Skip the Line St. Mark's Basilica Guided Tour with Gondola Ride

• Enjoy the grandeur of Venice through its canals in the iconic gondola on a 30-minute shared gondola ride.
• Discover St. Mark's Basilica, the beating heart of Venice, on an immersive guided tour, available in English, German, Spanish and French.

3. Piazzetta

St Mark's square piazzetta

Another place you can explore around St. Mark’s Square is the charming Piazzetta which forms a wide promenade between the Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco, which flows into it in front of the basilica. On the left of the square are the arcades of Sansovino's Libreria Vecchia, with the campanile on one side and the entrance of Basilica di San Marco on the other. You can also spot the Torre dell'Orologio and the Procuratie on the background. On the Molo, the open end at the water's edge, there are two columns - Colonna di Teodoro and Colonna di Marco.

4. St. Mark's Clock Tower

St Mark's square clock tower

The St. Mark's Clock Tower is another Venetian icon located close to St. Mark’s Square. TBuilt between 1496 and 1499, it was designed by Mauro Codussi. The clock tower showcases typical Venetian Renaissance architecture, with hints of individuality. This comes in the form of the mosaic of gold stars that glitters against a blue background and the Lion of St. Mark. These two additions were done in 1755 by Giorgio Massari, and you can visit the tower to get a closer view of these two figures. The big clock that is the tower’s namesake was designed by Ranieri and his son, and shows the hours, phases of the moon, and the signs of the zodiac.

5. Museo Correr

St Mark's square Venice Museum museo correr

If you’re looking for some fascinating insight into Venetian art, culture, and history, a trip to Museo Correr cannot be missed! What began as a collection that Teodoro Correr entrusted to the city in 1830, has now become one of the biggest collections of art in Venice. The museum is spread out in various sections, each filled with fascinating art.

Venice Museum Pass & Skip the Line ticket to Doge's Palace Tickets

• A single pass gives you access to ten museums in and around Venice, such as Museo Correr, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, and more.
• Get access to a guidebook which gives you 'All You Need To Know' details of the sites you are likely to visit.

Insider Tips

  • The first thing you’ll need to think about when planning a trip to St. Mark’s Square in Venice is how to beat the massive crowd that this tourist spot attracts. We have a simple solution. Get skip the line tickets that allow you direct entry into the most popular (and crowded) attractions without having to wait in queue.
  • Another way to save time and explore more of what Venice has to offer is planning your trip in advance and booking your tickets online. Booking your tickets online also allows you to save a bunch of money on great deals.
St Mark's Basilica Venice tickets
  • Since you’ll be doing a fair bit of walking from one museum to another, come prepared. Dress comfortably and avoid heels or any uncomfortable shoes. Also carry water at all times.
  • The food and drinks available at St. Mark’s Square are quite expensive. Instead of splurging at the main tourist attraction, save some time to explore the city later and find a local cafe.
  • Timing matters and if you don’t get to St. Mark’s early in the morning, don’t waste your time standing on the long lines anytime before noon. That’s the time all the tour groups come in and start queueing. Come back in mid afternoon when the crowd is gone.

St. Mark's Square Venice Reviews

What can I say that hasn't been said already.
This place was simply beautiful full of life and history. One of many wonderful places to see when wandering around Venice. One word of caution, try not to eat at restaurants around the square, they will rip you off big time. Go into the many smaller cafes in the laneways, nicer food friendly service.

Gazolya07, TripAdvisor, June 2018

Great time to go and sit in the square with the live music and the drinks! Definitely recommend for a night of relaxation!!

Madeline H, TripAdvisor, June 2018

Read what others have to say about St. Mark's Square Venice on TripAdvisor.

More Venice Guides

Here are a few detailed guides that will allow you to plan your Venice visit more efficiently.

FAQs: St. Mark's Square Venice

What is St Mark's Square known for?

Considered one of the finest squares in the world and certainly Venice's prime attraction, it is surrounded on three sides by the stately arcades of public buildings and on the fourth, by Basilica di San Marco's riot of domes and arches and the soaring St. Mark's campanile.

Is St Mark's Square free?

Admission to the Basilica is free, but visitors should expect to pay entrance fees during holidays or to special parts of the basilica complex, such as the Saint Mark's museum, Pala d'Oro, the Bell Tower, and the Treasury.

What is the famous square in Venice Italy?

Piazza San Marco is the city's main public square and contains its most famous buildings such as St Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace. Napoleon called it “the world's most beautiful drawing room”. Piazza San Marco is in the heart of Venice.

What's in St Marks Square Venice?

Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square) is the heart of Venice. As the largest square in the city St Mark's Square has always been the location of important government buildings and other facilities central to the goings on in Venice. For first time visitors it's the natural magnet to head for upon arriving.

How much is a water taxi from Venice train station to St Mark's square?

The cost-effective way to get from Venice (Station) to St Mark's Basilica is to line 2 ferry via Rialto "D", which costs €2 and takes 22 min.