The Caffé Florian, on the southern side of the square, claims to be the oldest café in Europe.
There are few places more distinctively and recognizably Venetian than the Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square as it is known in English. Some of the city’s most famous landmarks are located here, and it’s the perfect place to come and wander over the old flagstones in the sunshine, past the enamoured couples and the famous swirling masses of pigeons, and soak up the quintessentially Venetian atmosphere.
Putting a Ring on it
The eastern end of the square is dominated by St. Mark’s Basilica, a world-renowned masterpiece of Italo-Byzantine architecture whose extravagant exterior has long earned it the nickname Chiesa d'Oro (Church of gold). Next to the basilica stands its famous campanile, or bell tower. At 98m high, the campanile is the tallest building in Venice, and one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks, with its distinctive rusty brown brickwork contrasting strikingly with the prevailing white and cream of its surroundings.
Red Right Hand of the Doge
South of the basilica, and adjacent to the famous Grand Canal, sits the square’s other major landmark, the doge’s palace. A masterpiece of the Venetian Gothic architectural style, the palace is grand without being overly imposing, and it takes some time to fully take in the extent and intricacy of the carved stonework and delicate arches. On a darker note, you may notice the distinctly reddish tinge of the façade’s 9th and 10th columns, between which a representative of the doge used to appear and announce death sentences to the assembled crowd below.
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