History of Venice
The Antigo Trovatore Hotel is just a few steps from the area of San Marco – the Square and its immediate surroundings – where some of the city’s major monuments are grouped: the Doge’s Palace, Saint Mark’s Basilica, the Bell Tower, the Clock Tower, the Correr Museum, and the Procuratie Nuove and Vecchie (administration buildings of the Republic of Venice) with their porticoes that completely envelop the Square.
For centuries, Saint Mark’s Square was the seat of the civil, religious, and political power of the Serenissima Republic of Venice. Here, among the many ceremonies, the newly-elected Doge was carried through the crowd on a shoulder carriage from which he threw coins to all the assembled to celebrate his election.
While the Basilica was the center of religious ceremonies, the Doge’s Palace was the seat of the government. From here, crossing the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri), you had access to the building that housed the New Prisons.
Capital executions took place between the two columns that stand at the border of the Piazzetta on the Basin. Here, the sentenced convicts aimed their last glance towards the Clock Tower, to find out the exact time in which they died.
Long ago, a part of the Square was also partially occupied by a large vegetable garden. Looking carefully, you can still see the outline of the old well engraved in the pavement, and you can read a small plaque commemorating the ancient limit of the Square. The centre of the Square is paved in a herring-bone pattern: during Carnival, this is where the carousel of masks took place.
From the archway that opens up under the Clock Tower you have access to the Mercerie – the main century-old street of the city and centre of international shopping – which leads to Rialto, the commercial heart of Venice, that still hosts the market area.
Today, Saint Mark’s Square – also called “Salon of Europe” – remains one of the world’s most iconic places, one of the most visited in Italy, and one that simply cannot be missed.