Venice: St. Mark’s Square

Not the San Marco Lion–but a gorgeous model

The most famous section of Venice is St. Mark’s Square. For me, Canaletto made it familiar. His exquisite oil paintings capture the beautiful and mood of this quintessential Venetian square. We traveled there on a water bus–a fifteen minute cruise to glory and the splendor of Piazza San Marco.

A hint of Canaletto

We walked along quays and over canals until we came to the piazzetta (little piazza–not pizza). We entered between two columns: one sported a statue of St. Todaro, a patron saint, the other the winged Lion of St. Mark. Rather than ushering us into the purity of cathedrals and bell towers, imagine my horror when I discovered this gorgeous piazzetta fronted with marble-faced buildings had once been the scene of public executions.

The crowning jewel of St. Mark’s Square is the Basilica San Marco. The title basilica means the relics of a saint lie there. In this case, St. Mark’s body. It was brought here in 828 from Alexandria, Egypt. The church was built to showcase its precious relics.

Bit by bit, the church was built between the 11th and 15th century and is an exquisite blend of Byzantine gold, Gothic spires, Romanesque round arches and Islamic domes.

Although being restored, you can see the myriad
architectural influences
I didn’t give you a close-up, but look at
those columns

As impressive as the basilica is, the columns intrigued me. As I said before, the buildings are constructed with lightweight brick. However, all of them are faced with marble. The colors of these columns defied my imagination. I think of marble as statuary white. These were pink and green and blue. Beautiful.

The basilica joins the Doge’s Palace. The doge was a magistrate, elected for life.

Note the risers. Although it rained, we didn’t flood

When the tide is high and the moon strong, St. Mark’s floods. Risers lay piled along the quay ready to be laid out as raised sidewalks. Shops along the tiny alleys that comprise the streets of Venice, shoppers can find thigh-high rubber boots in fashionable designs coordinated with raincoats.

Our guide showed us a picture of one tourist who sat in the outdoor dining room of one cafe. Water lapped his chest. Incredible, crazy tourists.

just a hint of detail
love in Piazza San Marco
note the lion of San Marco
(And the seagulls)


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