- Access St Mark’s Small Square
Piazzetta San Marco (St. Mark’s Small Square) is the main entrance to Venice. The city founded on the sea and open to Mediterranean trade could only have its main entrance opening onto the water: from here you access the heart of the public palaces where the Doge presided. Approaching from the sea, the visitors in ancient times were enthralled by the impressive size of the Doge’s Palace, a gothic masterpiece and powerful blend of architectural and decorative styles.
The Palace, built on narrow archlets resting on splendid capitals, is the very image of the power and resilience of the Serenissima Republic of Venice, founded on the water like the same residence of the Doge. Visitors then catch sight of the square with a path towards the St. Mark's Basilica, with one of the most stunning perspective effects of all time.
Between the two highest and monumental granite columns originating from the Near East with symbols of the patron saints of the Serenissima Republic of Venice on top, the portico of the church can be seen, where on the southern side the Porta da Mar opens up, offering access to St. Mark's centre of Venice.
Today the square shows all the magnificence of the Venetian trades in just a glance. St. Theodore, the ancient patron, with the Lion of St. Mark, the new patron of the Queen of the Seas, tower over the columns from above. The Doge’s Palace is on the right with access to the Porta della Carta, leading to the archives and Doge’s apartments. The door is presided over by the Tetrarchs and by the so-called “Acritani” pillars, or pillars of St. John of Acre. The portico of the Basilica is surmounted by the famous quadriga of horses: all works that indicate the connections and power of Venice in the Orient.
The bell tower is located on the other side of the square and is a symbol of the city. At its feet stands the National Library of St. Mark’s designed by Jacopo Sansovino.