Wednesday, October 7, 2015

St. Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace

This is certainly the most magnificent part of Venice and would be in most any city. They form one side of one of the great squares in the world. St. Mark’s Square is filled with people, restaurants, shops, and music most of the day and evening. Even early mornings find crowds although they are smaller than they will be later in the day.  St. Mark’s opens at 9:30 and we were in line at 9:15.  We were in about 9:45.  The lines stay long most of the day, but move relatively fast.

We toured both buildings stopping for lunch in between. Both are a testament to the power of Venice when it was the richest and most important city in Europe and on the Mediterranean for centuries before the trade routes shifted to the west.

Winged lion is the symbol of Venice
 Most magnificent in the basilica is the Golden Altarpiece. It does cost a few Euro to get in but well worth it.  Biblical scenes are decorated in gold and over 2000 precious gems, most of which were plundered during the Crusades from Constantinople. Never mind the fact that Constantinople was a Christian city at the time.

The bronze horses which were also stolen and spent some of their past in Paris where Napoleon had them taken are now inside the church. They have been replaced outside with replicas. The views from the outside balcony were mesmerizing. I stood for about five minutes just taking in the scene.  We heard music wafting up from the square.  One of the restaurants had a small orchestra playing.  The cover charge for that place is higher as are the prices.  But it is nice that the music is outside so all can enjoy it while wandering through the square. 

The Doge’s Palace was the seat of government. Given the power and wealth of Venice it is no surprise that this building is filled with great art and magnificent meeting rooms. 

One of the Doges, political leaders of Venice
The Palace

One door leads across the adjacent canal to the prison. The covered bridge is call the Bridge of Sighs acknowledging the sighs made by prisoners as they took their last look at Venice before being imprisoned.  It was interesting to see the various sizes of the cells.  Some were very big and we couldn’t help wonder how many prisoners were held there…5, 25, 50. 

Bridge of Sighs

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