a group of people in front of a large church
a group of people in front of a large church

St Marks Square and St. Mark's Basilica

Dedicated to the patron saint of Venice, the Basilica di San Marco is an iconic landmark and one of the most visited sites in the city. Dating back to the 9th century, it is considered one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture with its five huge domes, walls clad in marble and layout reflecting a Greek cross. Whilst the basic structure has not been subject to a great amount of change, its symbol of Venetian wealth and power was cemented over the several centuries it was adorned with treasures. 

Inside the basilica it’s impossible not to be drawn to the golden ceiling where around 8,000 square metres of opulent mosaics have been made with 24-carat gold leaf, creating a golden light effect. Other must-see sights are the Pala d'Oro - a golden altarpiece embedded with hundreds of gemstones, and the famous Quadriga of St Mark's - four life size bronze horses originally looted from Constantinople during the fourth crusade. 
Piazza San Marco is the largest and most important square in Venice. Famously referred to as the 'drawing room of Europe' by Napoleon, it’s still the preferred meeting place of locals and tourists alike. It’s probably one of the most renowned squares in the world, as well as one of the most beautiful. The expansive square is surrounded by intricate buildings, bustling cafés and restaurants, and boutiques selling Venice’s famous Murano glass ornaments and carnival masks. The piazza seems to be busy no matter what time of the year your visit, but this makes it great for people watching and soaking up the atmosphere. However, once the day-trippers have left at the end of the day it does become quieter.

The square is made up of three areas; the main piazza, la Piazzetta and Piazzetta dei Leoni. It’s the home of several of Venice's most important sights and the host of the city’s main events throughout the year. The magnificent St Mark’s Basilica, Doge's Palace, and the 323-foott bell tower dominate the square - its impressive buildings providing a wealth of architecture to be admired against the backdrop of the lagoon.

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