Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco is the main public square of Venice.

A remark usually attributed (though without proof) to Napoleon calls the Piazza San Marco “the drawing room of Europe”.

Piazza San Marco was constructed in the IX century as a small square dotted with trees. The square was laid out in front of the original St. Mark’s Basilica, at the time a small chapel which was part of the Doge’s Palace.

The square was separated from the palace by a small canal, the Rio Batario.

Already a central gathering place for Venetians, piazza San Marco was enlarged in 1174 after the canal and an adjoining dock were filled in.

The square became paved with bricks in 1267 in a herringbone pattern.

In 1735 the bricks were replaced with natural stone and laid in a more complicated pattern according to a design devised by architect Andrea Tirali. The design marked the location where merchants could set up their stalls.

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