Venice (part 2). AlexTar travelog
Piazza San Marco often known in English as St Mark's Square, is the principal public square of Venice, where it is generally known just as la Piazza ("the Square"). All other urban spaces in the city (except the Piazzetta and the Piazzale Roma) are called campi ("fields"). Piazza San Marco contains its most famous buildings such as St Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Museo Correr and the Basilica’s bell tower. Napoleon called it “the world’s most beautiful drawing room”. It was established during the ninth century, but adopted its current size and form in 1177, and was paved one hundred years later. It is the lowest point in Venice; therefore, when there is Acqua Alta, it is the first place to be flooded. When this happens, the authorities place wooden footbridges for the locals and tourists. You can have something in the Caffè Florian, one of the oldest bars in Italy. It dates back to 1720
and for the past one hundred years, the bar offers live music to its customers. The only negative aspect is that the cheapest drink is approximately 10€. The Doge's Palace is a palace built in Venetian Gothic style, and one of the main landmarks of the city. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic. It was built in 1340 and extended and modified in the following centuries. The oldest part of the palace is the wing overlooking the lagoon, the corners of which are decorated with 14th-century sculptures. It became a museum in 1923. The entrance tickets can be booked online. The price is 25 euro which also includes visit to Museo Correr.
The north side of the courtyard is closed by the junction between the palace and St Mark's Basilica, which used to be the Doge's chapel. At the center of the courtyard stand two well-heads dating from the mid-16th century. Over the centuries, the Doge's Palace has been restructured and restored countless times. Due to fires, structural failures, and infiltrations, and new organizational requirements and modifications or complete overhaulings of the ornamental trappings there was hardly a moment in which some kind of works have not been underway at the building. The originals, some of which were masterpieces of Venetian sculpture of the 14th and 15th centuries, were placed, together with other sculptures from the facades, in an area specifically set aside for this purpose: the Museo dell’Opera. After undergoing thorough and careful restoration works, they are now exhibited, on their original columns, which are traversed by an ancient wall in great blocks of stone, a remnant of an earlier version of the Palace. It also contains fragments of statues
and important architectural and decorative works in stone from the facades of the Palace. The core of Doge's apartments forms a prestigious, though not particularly large, residence, given that the rooms nearest the Golden Staircase had a mixed private and public function. In the private apartments, the Doge could set aside the trappings of office to retire at the end of the day and dine with members of his family amidst furnishings that he had brought from his own house (and which, at his death, would be promptly removed to make way for the property of the new elected Doge). Here visitors can see The Scarlet Chamber, The “Scudo” Room, The Erizzo Room, The Stucchi or Priùli Room, the Philosophers’ Room, The Corner Room and The Equerries Room.
Among different rooms and halls the Chamber of the Great Council is the biggest and the most gorgeous one. Restructured in the 14th century, the Chamber of the Great Council was decorated with a fresco by Guariento and later with works by the most famous artists of the period, including Titian, along with a 1582 ceiling painting of The Triumph of Venice, Crowned by Victory by Veronese. 53 meters long and 25 meters wide, this is not only the largest chamber in the Doge's Palace but also one of the largest rooms in Europe. Here, meetings of the Great Council were held, the most important political body in the Republic.
Among hundreds of bridges in Venice the Bridge of Sighs is one of the most famous. A corridor leads over the Bridge of Sighs, built in 1614 to link the Doge's Palace to the structure intended to house the New Prisons. Enclosed and covered on all sides, the bridge contains two separate corridors that run next to each other. The famous name of the bridge dates from the Romantic period and was supposed to refer to the sighs of prisoners who, passing from the courtroom to the cell in which they would serve their sentence, took a last look at freedom as they glimpsed the lagoon and San Giorgio through the small windows.
The best view on the Bridge of Sighs is from Ponte della Paglia. The current structure dates from 1847, and the original structure was built in 1360. The original structure was the oldest stone bridge in Venice. The name of the bridge is understood to come from boats mooring nearby to offload straw (paglia).
In 1485, the Great Council decided that a ceremonial staircase should be built within the courtyard. The design envisaged a straight axis with the rounded Foscari Arch, with alternate bands of Istrian stone and red Verona marble, linking the staircase to the Porta della Carta, and thus producing one single monumental approach from the Piazza into the heart of the building. Since 1567, the Giants’ Staircase is guarded by Sansovino's two colossal statues of Mars and Neptune, which represents Venice's power by land and by sea, and therefore the reason for its name. The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark, commonly known as St Mark's Basilica cathedral church is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has been the city's cathedral only since 1807. The building's structure dates back to the later part of the 11th century,
and the most likely influence on its architecture and design is the Hagia Sophia. The gold ground mosaics that now cover almost all the upper areas of the interior took centuries to complete. As I mentioned before the ticket to Doge’s Palace includes a visit to Museo Correr too.
The museum extends along the southside of the square. With its rich and varied collections, the Museo Correr covers both the art and history of Venice. The Museo Correr originated with the collection bequeathed to the city of Venice in 1830 by Teodoro Correr. A member of a traditional Venetian family, Correr was a meticulous and passionate collector, dedicating most of his life to the collection of both works of art and documents or individual objects that reflected the history of Venice. The first floor of the Museo Correr
illustrates the life and culture of the Venetian Republic over the centuries of its political grandeur and independence. On the second floor, the rooms display the Picture Gallery, which focuses primarily on Venetian painting up to the 16th century. Travelling around the city is impossible without using boats – vaporetto, gondola or traghetto. Gondola is the most expensive (from 80 euro) and private boat (up to 6 people). But it’s also the most unique. One ride on vaporetto will cost 7.5 euro. The most popular and crowded are routes 1 and N because they go down the whole Grand Canal to Santa Lucia railway station where passengers can enjoy the most famous buildings of Venice. The banks of the Grand Canal are lined with more than
170 buildings, most of which date from the 13th to the 18th century, and demonstrate the welfare and art created by the Republic of Venice. The noble Venetian families faced huge expenses to show off their richness in suitable palazzos; this contest reveals the citizens’ pride and the deep bond with the lagoon. Amongst the many are the Palazzi Barbaro, Ca' Rezzonico, Ca' d'Oro, Palazzo Dario, Ca' Foscari, Palazzo Barbarigo and to Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, housing the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The churches along the canal include the basilica of Santa Maria della Salute.
Because most of the city's traffic goes along the Canal rather than across it, only one bridge crossed the canal until the 19th century, the Rialto Bridge. There are currently three more bridges, the Ponte degli Scalzi, the Ponte dell'Accademia, and the controversial Ponte della Costituzione. As was usual in the past, people can still take a ferry ride across the canal at several points by standing up on the deck of a simple gondola called a traghetto (2 euro), although this service is less common than even a decade ago.
Dorsoduro is one of the six sestieri of Venice. It includes the highest land areas of the city. Its name derives from the Italian for "hard ridge", due to its comparatively high, stable land. Dorsoduro is an academic district which includes simple and pretty cheap restaurants, clothing shops and jewelry boutiques. Venice has about 400 gondolas in active service, and all are made by hand. The oldest and most famous boatyard is the Squero di San Trovaso where you can enjoy a free view of the gondola craftsmen at work from the opposite bank of the Canal. Walking down Dorsoduro to the very narrow finger of Punta della Dogana, between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal, one can see another visible church Santa Maria della Salute.
In 1630, Venice experienced an unusually devastating outbreak of the plague. As a votive offering for the city's deliverance from the pestilence, the Republic of Venice vowed to build and dedicate a church to Our Lady of Health. It was finally completed in 1681. The dome of the Salute was an important addition to the Venice skyline and soon became emblematic of the city, inspiring artists. The most represented artist included in the church is Titian. Keep walking to the very edge of the island and there will be one of the most fantastic panoramic views on the city. In this area I recommend you Corner pub with affordable prices for traditional Venetian appetizer – cicchetti and local Prosecco wine. The third bridge on Grand Canal is Ponte dell'Accademia. It crosses near
the southern end of the canal, and is named for the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia. The bridge links the sestieri of Dorsoduro and San Marco. The original steel structure opened in 1854, but was demolished and replaced by a wooden bridge opened in 1933, despite widespread hopes for a stone bridge. Lovers have attempted to attach padlocks ("love locks") to the metal hand rails of the bridge, but Venetian authorities have successfully cracked down on this. The first bridge which we see near the Santa Lucia is Ponte degli Scalzi, literally, "bridge of the barefoot [monks]", which is the forth bridge over Grand canal. It was completed in 1934,
replacing an Austrian iron bridge. On the north side there are the Church of the Barefoot Monks and the Santa Lucia (Ferrovia) railway station. On the south side there is Chiesa di San Simeon Piccolo church.
The night time in Venice is even more special than anywhere else. This is a period when the city prepares for a rest and changes its appearance. Hundreds of restaurants and cafes along the canals open their terraces for everyone. Gondoliers leave their gondolas for a night till the next working day. Illuminated bridges and cathedrals look very charming. Venice is a city that everyone must see at least once in a life. It doesn’t matter how many days you spend there, just remember to walk the less popular tourist streets and try local delicacies.
Let me know your impression about this amazing city. Let’s discover the world together!