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Saint Mark's Square: the political and representative heart of Venice

Saint Mark's Square has always been the political and representative heart of the city of Venice. From the Hotel Sant'Elena Venice Saint Mark's Square is easily reachable with a pleasant walk through the Venetian "calli" or with a short vaporetto-ride.

Originally a large field cultivated by the nuns of the convent of San Zaccaria, today Saint Mark's Square is a unique square around which a spectacular series of buildings with a symbolic value, made by the most famous artists of all time, develop.
Actually the square's history is quite similar to the hotel's one: in the past a convent, today completely transformed into a refined and modern 4-stars hotel immersed in the most authentic part of Venice.

The headquarter of the Doge, the government and the judiciary since ancient times. This is one of the greatest masterpieces of Gothic architecture with a unique feature: while usually buildings are lightened gradually in the upper floors, the Doge's Palace presents a portico on the ground floor, an open air loggia on the first floor and an imposing wall decorated on the following floors, interrupted only by large windows.

According to the an antique tale in 828 some Venetian sailors went to Alexandria in Egypt to retrieve the remains of Saint Mark, the patron saint of Venice, hiding it under pork meat to avoid controls by Muslims. To safeguard this relic, the Basilica was erected, at first a simple brick church. Today it is a fabulous structure in which the Byzantine, the Romantic, the Gothic and the Renaissance styles blend harmoniously. As soon as you cross the threshold, you are struck by the preciousness of the floors, columns and ceilings, completely covered in mosaics made by golden and marble tiles.

Historically the clock tower showed to those coming from the sea the entrance to the Mercerie, the long commercial artery that leads to Rialto (the mercantile heart of the city). The large clock divided into 24 sections stands out on the facade and shows the 12 zodiacal signs. Above, the statue of the Virgin with the Child and the famous Lion of Saint Mark, placed on a starry background. On the top the great bell of the Moors, two colossal bronze statues of shepherds who beat the hours with big hammers.
Every year on Epiphany Day, from the side doors in the section of the Virgin, the Magi come out preceded by the angel who plays a trumpet. All automatas are very antique and definetely among the most beautiful late medieval chimes.

Almost 100mt high, it offers a spectacular view that spans the whole city, the lagoon and even up to the Alps on clear days.

These two columns mark the ancient entrance to the city for those arriving from the sea. Above the capitals, there are the statues of the two Venetian patrons: the holy warrior Teodoro killing the dragon and Saint Mark, symbolized by the winged lion.

More than a bridge it is an aerial passage made of Istrian stone that connects the Doge's Palace to the Piombi Prisons. It is said that prisoners used to sigh seeing for the last time the Lagoon through the pierced windows, hence the name "Bridge of Sighs".