Piazza San Marco is the only area called “Square”. All other areas with this form are called “fields.” The square structure consists of three areas: the square, the Piazzetta San Marco and the PiazzettadeiLeoncini. The imposing Basilica of the area and the bell tower , the Campanile, can offer you a truly picturesque architectural show.
The Piazzetta San Marco is an extension of the space in front of the Palazzo Ducale, where is built the library. It’s the first view people coming by the sea have about the “marciana area” framed by two huge columns. The Bacino San Marco is the piece of the lagoon on which overlooks the pier of the Ducal Palace. The PiazzettadeiLeoncini is on the left of the Basilica of San Marco and takes its name from the two statues that surround the area.
The unique "real" square in Venice
Always a favourite destination of all tourists visiting Venice, Piazza San Marco is close to the Basilica of San Marco. The current shape of the square had many renovation works during the centuries . Originally the area was a large vegetable garden crossed by the Rio Batario, which joined the stream of Cavalletto and the one of the Zecca.
The Ducal Palace, which had the shape of a medieval castle with defensive towers, was completely surrounded by a canal that protected the access. In the area of the square there was a dock used for loading and unloading of goods. With the launch of the construction of the Basilica, after the arrival of the relics of St. Mark in 828, the area started to become the centre of political and social activities in Venice. The terrible fire of 976 nearly destroyed the Basilica and the entire area around the building was severely damaged. But the importance of the Church and of the city centre inspired many renovation works in just two years to rebuild the Basilica and the Castle.
The birth of Piazza San Marco
In 1172 it was realized the expansion of the Piazzetta for new buildings. The new Piazza San Marco was bordered by the Church of San Geminiano and the two monumental columns that represent the entrance to the area. In 1264 it was made the herringbone paving of the square, exactly sixty years after the arrival of the Horses of San Marco and the statue of Tetrachi, made in marble taken with the capture of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade.
From 1495 to 1517 were built the “ProcuratieVecchie” so called because were staying there the Procurators of St. Mark. The imposing structure consists of a portico of 50 arches and 100 windows. In these years it was also built the Clock Tower, which borders one side of the building. At the same time started some works to clean warehouses and gardens that still occupied the area of the square. Subsequently, Jacopo Tatti, known as Sansovino, built the Loggetta and the beautiful building of the Library. The work of renewal of the square proceeded until 1640, when “New Procuratie were built.” The area was completed iin 1807, when under Napoleonic rule, was demolished the Church of San Geminiano and ProcuratieNuovissime were built, better as known as the ” Napoleonic Wing”. In 1902 the Campanile di San Marco suddenly collapsed destroying the Loggia and a part of the Library. Construction was started and completed in a very short time, using the same pieces of plaster, still in good condition.