Tag Archives: Piazza San Marco

In the Doges’ Palace

We’re near the end, now. And we’re right back where we started, at Piazza San Marco.

For centuries, Venice was a dominant—sometimes the dominant—force in the commercial and cultural life of Europe, playing a role similar to that of New York City in the 20th century. The Doges’ Palace was Venice’s ultimate power center.

The Palace is adjacent to Saint Mark’s Basilica, and its entrance is just around the corner.


The Courtyard

You approach the palace grounds through this dim passageway…

…which opens to the central courtyard, and a magnificent assemblage of architecture. It’s a much smaller space than Piazza San Marco, but every bit as awe-inspiring..

Emerging from that shadowy entrance into this exquisite space is similar to going from Kansas to Oz.


“Much have I travelled in the realms of gold…”

Beautiful as the exterior is, it doesn’t prepare you for the grand rooms of the Palace.

This is why I keep going back to Europe. It takes centuries of civilization for a society to create an environment like this.


In the Armory

Every palace needs an armory.


The Reason I Came to Venice

There’s one more room in the palace still to visit: The Chamber of the Great Council. It gets a separate posting.

What the Well-Dressed Venetian Will Wear

Back at Piazza San Marco, I found a captivating shop called Venice Land, which offers Carnevale costumes and masks for sale or rent. This is the stuff of dreams.

Expensive dreams, though. While you can buy little plastic Carnevale masks for a few euros on any street in Venice, serious goods like these are another story entirely. For beautiful work like the objects in these pictures, costume rental is in the hundreds, and sale is in the thousands.

Piazza San Marco

As I’ve mentioned, I don’t travel well. After an overnight flight from Washington via Paris, I finally arrived at my Venice hotel a little after 3 PM. I checked in, had a quick shower, lay down for a nap, and woke up 13 hours later.

I always write off the first day of a European vacation.

The next morning I was ready to go. My hotel was a 10-minute walk—crossing four little bridges—from Piazza San Marco.

St. Mark’s Square.

Napoleon allegedly once called Piazza San Marco “the most beautiful drawing room in Europe”, although verifying that quotation is impossible. It’s a huge, magnificent space, and seeing it for the first time made me regret that I’ve used the adjective “breathtaking” far too promiscuously in the past. For the next two weeks, the Piazza would mark my Kilometre Zero—everything else would radiate from here.


St Mark’s Basilica