Travel: Piazza San Marco

Anticipating the crowds we would encounter, my friend and I opted to wake early so that we could avoid the lines. I’m quite impressed with ourselves as we made it to St. Mark’s Square around 8 AM when it was still peaceful and quiet, void of boisterous vendors and the hubbub of tourist groups.

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St. Mark’s Square is the principal public square in Venice. This sprawling open area formed the social, religious, and political centre of Venice.

A popular remark attributed to Napoleon termed this area as “the drawing-room of Europe.”

It is breathtaking to witness during tranquil moments, but also impressive as one of the few remaining great urban spaces in Europe where human voices prevail over the sounds of motorized traffic.

The Piazza is dominated by some landmark buildings:

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St Mark’s Basilica


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Torre dell’Orologio


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Museo Correr



Doge’s Palace:

The Doge’s Palace is built-in the Venetian Gothic style; it was the residence of the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice. He was the chief magistrate and leader of the Serene Republic of Venice for over a thousand years. Doge’s were elected for life by the city-state’s aristocracy, and was commonly the shrewdest elder in the city. He was variously referred to as “My Lord the Doge”, “Most Serene Prince”, and “His Serenity.”

This institution originated around 700 replacing the  tribunes that formerly led the cluster of early settlements around the lagoon. The official elected was a the local representative of the Emperor of Constantinople, and regarded as the ecclesiastical, the civil and military leader, in a power structure named caesaropapism. His prerogatives were not defined with precision, and despite the position being entrusted to members of the inner circle of powerful families, a law was necessary to decree that no doge had the right to name his successor.

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In 1172 the election process was finally entrusted to a committee of forty, who were chosen by four men selected from the Great Council of Venice, an annually nominated group of twelve people. New regulations were then introduced in 1268 that remained effective until the end of the republic in 1797. The primary objective was to minimize the influence of great families by instituting a complex elective machinery.

The ceremonial formula before the doge took the oath of investiture was as follows. “This is your doge, if it please you.”

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