In a city that is like a labyrinth of canals and bridges, with old and interesting houses at every corner, there is still a place where everybody is rushing to. Ant that is Piazza San Marco, the place where it all happens. Perfectly enclosed by the public buildings of Procuratie, the square directs the attention to the Gothic facade of St Mark’s Basilica. Covered in gold on the inside, the former chapel of the rulers of this republican city, is now the most imposing building around. Connected to it is the Doge’s Palace, the splendid Gothic residence of the elected rulers of the city, now turned into one of the most admired museums in the world.

Piercing the sky and having a totally different aspect, the Campanile offers the opportunity of an aerial view over the city and of the square itself. The side with the Doge’s Palace opens into a smaller square, marked by the two columns with Saint George and the symbolic Lion of Evangelist Mark. The waters of the channel often rise to the pavement of this smaller square. It’s the place from where you can take a gondola or a larger boat, that replaces regular public transportation of a city. The docks continue on both sides, to a small park, arranged during Napoleon’s occupation, or, over the Bridge of Sighs, to the rest of the city.

Though the three stores buildings seem to box in the square, there are several access ways, through passage ways, under the columns, or through the clock gate on the left side of the cathedral. The clock has a blue (ultramarine) dial with golden zodiac signs and is connected to the ornate bell on top. A statue of a winged Venetian lion is also present on this gate. In the central level, between the winged lion and the clock, there is a statue of Mary with Child. The clock tower was built in the last years of the 15th century ant it’s actually accurate not only for showing the hour, but also for creating an astrogram. Since the zodiac dial revolves, you can know the zodiac sign for someone born in that moment, given by the sign in which the sun is into.

The building on the side with the clock tower is the oldest, known for that reason as Procuratie Vecchie, dating from 1538. All three buildings were meant for official functions, currently being used as museums, shops, offices, but also as temporary residence for the president of Italian Republic. The second is known as Procuratie Nuove, and was ready in 1640. This former residence for Italian kings, now has an impressive collection of museums: Museo Correr, Museo del Risorgimento (the Unification by Garibaldi), Archeology Museum. The last of the three buildings surrounding the square is only two stores high, is opposing the Basilica and was built during Napoleonic occupation. The rest of the collections of Teodoro Correr, in the museum that has his name.

Besides the stone walls with statues and sculpted arches, St Mark’s Square in Venice is always full of life. The friendly pigeons, that surround every tourist with a piece of bread or some grains, offer iconic images for Venice. From place to place there are famous coffee bars with tables on the street and fantastic bands that play excellent music. The amplification is discrete so each performance is not disturbed by the neighboring orchestra, but enough to hear pleasant sounds from any point of the square, during the evening. Even tourists who don’t take a sit at the tables stop to enjoy the music and burst into applause from time to time.

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