Day 2: Venice

Venice Travel Blog

 › entry 2 of 11 › view all entries
St Mark's Square

On this day Jon and I were up bright and early and ready to tour the city. After a fantastic breakfast at our hotel we took the shuttle across to San Marco Plaza to meet the rest of the group. The three that had gone missing the day before had eventually made it to Venice and then continued on through other parts of Italy for their own self-directed adventures. We would not see them until we boarded the ship to set sail for Greece.

 

We took in the beautiful views of Saint Mark's Plaza before popping into the basilica for a tour. The church is a hodgepodge of various architectural styles, most notably Byzantine. The story of the rise to glory and riches for Venice is intertwined with that of Saint Mark's.

St Mark's
In the 9th century, two merchants stole the dead body of Saint Mark (really the bones at that point) and snuck it off to Venice as a gift to the Doge (the local church AND government leader of the day).  They managed to get it past the Muslims they were stealing it from by hiding it in a pork barrel (where of course they would never look). Having the bones of a new testament gospel writer within your city meant you were to be revered and honored and that's exactly what the remains did for the status of Venice. The original church on the property burned down and what we see now in its place was built in the 11th century.

 

The church is filled with famous mosaics depicted Noah and the floods among other biblical stories. There is also a golden altarpiece studded with rubies, emeralds, pearls, and other precious gems.

Bronze horses atop St Mark's
It's quite spectacular. Another interesting church feature are the bronze horses that grace the roof of the church. They are a story in thievery- early Greek or Roman sculptures that were stolen by Nero and taken to Rome, then stolen by Constantine to grace Constantinople, where they were stolen by Venetians during a ransacking war, then stolen by Napoleon during the overtaking of Venice just before the 19th century began. It wasn't until Napoleon was unseated from power that they were returned to Venice. Stolen bones, stolen horses�.the venetians have a long history of thievery!

 

Overall I found the church to be beautiful but not awe inspiring in the way of Saint Peter's in Rome. 

 

We crossed the Piazza and headed for the Correr museum.

Doge's Palace
It's filled with Venetian historical artifacts and fine art. We spent a couple of hours making our way through the museum, but unfortunately as pictures are not allowed, we have no documentation of our time there. It was a lot of sculpture and a lot of artwork casting the Doges as the subjects. A fairly impressive collection and I'd highly recommend it should you find yourself in Venice.

 

After a quick lunch, the group entered the Doge's Palace. It's a pale pink building with overdone ornamental architecture on St. Mark's Square that once held the local governing offices for the city-state of Venice. As I mentioned before Doges were very powerful, controlling both the church and the government. One of the interesting features of the palace are the Mouths of Truth scattered about the complex.

Doge's Palace
These werecomplaint boxes per se where neighbor could inform on neighbor to the government anonymously and wait for justice to be handed down. Very different from our sense of justice where you have the right to face your accuser.

There are various rooms of interest in the palace such as those where justice was deliberated and one could be sentenced to death, private rooms of the Doge for everyday life, armory rooms that still hold gruesome weapons and torture instruments and of course DUNGEONS. The dungeons were in use from the time the palace was built in the 800s to the 1930s. There are still carvings on the wall made by the prisoners and you get a real sense of the despair and hopelessness that must have hung in the air when you wander through the narrow dark and damp tunnels. Connecting the prisons to the outside world is the Bridge of Sighs. It's a famous landmark of Venice and from atop it came the last glimpse prisoners would have of sunlight before being marched down to the dungeons.

Doge's Palace

 

Soon after we emerged from the palace we stumbled upon two of the three remaining members right in the piazza who had arrived into Venice that afternoon (bringing the total group count to 12 but then minus the three that had gone off sightseeing elsewhere in Italy we were down to 9).

 

We did dinner as a group at Osteri Alle Testiere. While the restaurant came highly recommended and was affordable, I found the cuisine lacking as compared to that offered in southern Italy such as Rome. I would later have the same experience throughout our vacation and concluded that I simply prefer southern to northern Italian cuisine.

Note: Make sure to check out all our photos below including the video Diane took- a 360 degree presentation of St Mark's Square..

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
St Marks Square
St Mark's Square
St Marks
St Mark's
Bronze horses atop St Marks
Bronze horses atop St Mark's
Doges Palace
Doge's Palace
Doges Palace
Doge's Palace
Doges Palace
Doge's Palace
Doges Palace
Doge's Palace
Doges Palace
Doge's Palace
Doges Palace
Doge's Palace
Doges Palace
Doge's Palace
Bridge of Sighs
Bridge of Sighs
Clock tower on St Marks Square
Clock tower on St Mark's Square
St Marks Square
St Mark's Square
St Marks Square
St Mark's Square
St Marks Square- random bride
St Mark's Square- random bride
St Marks Square
St Mark's Square
St Marks
St Mark's
St Marks
St Mark's
St Marks
St Mark's
St Marks
St Mark's
St Marks
St Mark's
Doges Palace
Doge's Palace
Doges Palace
Doge's Palace
Doges Palace
Doge's Palace
St Marks
St Mark's
church (there are so many in Venic…
church (there are so many in Veni…
Venice canal
Venice canal
Venice at dusk
Venice at dusk
Venice at night
Venice at night
Venice at night
Venice at night
Venice at night
Venice at night
Strange city in England where some…
Strange city in England where som…
360 degrees of St Mark's square i…
Venice
photo by: asturjimmy