Venice / AreasGallery
Venice has here its cultural and commercial centre. The sestiere of St Mark area takes its name from the Basilica dating from the 9th century originally built to house the remains of Saint Mark the Evangelist. All the reasons that bring millions of tourists flocking to Venice every year are to be found in this vibrant area, swarming with life.
This sestiere is the face the world most identifies with the city, a face of magnificence and beauty. Here, in this area, an unceasing sequence of churches and shops, restaurants and grand palazzi, create a mosaic which sparkles with the sense of eternity.
Starting from the two columns, once the sole gateway from the sea to the city, St. Mark’s Square leads us on an incomparable promenade encompassing past and present, politics and religion, east and west, land and sea: in a word, Venice.
Facing us from the square is one of the cities most evocative views, famous from countless artistic depictions throughout the centuries: the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, a centre of religion and culture from time immemorial, now home to the Giorgio Cini Foundation. The church, designed by Palladio, together with its bell tower, appear to mirror the square across the water.
But let’s go back to the sestiere of St Mark. In the eyes of the world, Venice is a collection of postcards that are all represented here. St Mark's Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, St. Mark's Campanile and the ornamental Clocktower; the Procuratie Vecchie and Nuove and their porticoes glimmering with luxury shops, jewellers and historic cafés such as Café Florian, and The Bridge of Sighs, where condemned prisoners made their sorrowful way across to enter the prison. Everything contained in St Mark’s Square deserves in its own right a compulsory visit.
The Museo Correr and exhibitions at Palazzo Grassi remain two of the best places to view art, though the Scala del Bovolo, a 15th century monument of incredible beauty, and the elegant Renaissance architecture of the Church of San Salvatore with Titian’s unmissable Annunciation, provide spectacular open-air masterpieces.
For lovers of art and culture, a stay in Venice would not be complete without at least one visit to the theatre La Fenice, the temple of opera which lives up to its name (fenice means phoenix) by rising up from its ashes and which since 2004 has returned to its past splendour.
The sestiere of St Mark embraces all this and much more...