Located on St. Mark’s square, St. Mark’s Campanile has been watching over Venice since the 9th century. Follow the guide!
💡 The Captain’s tip 💡
Want to know more about the history of Venice? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the city. It’s up to you to choose how much you wish to tip the tour guide!
Looking for a hotel in Venice? Be sure to check out the Captain’s article: Where to stay in Venice? Advice & recommendations
Pou planning your trip to Venice? Be sure to check out Captain Ulysses’ complete article on what to see and do in the city: a Guide to Venice
Brief history of St Mark’s Campanile
The first version of St. Mark’s Campanile
In 888, the construction of the first watchtower began on the foundations of a Roman building. But in 1080, the building collapsed. Captain Doge of Venice, Domenico Selvio, therefore decided to build a new watchtower a few metres away, where St. Mark’s Campanile stands today.
Completed in the 12th century, the tower was 98.5 metres high — the highest building in the city of Venice — and was both the city’s lighthouse and watchtower. lighthouse and watchtower.
Damaged in a fire in 1489 and then again in 1511, St. Mark’s Campanile underwent multiple transformations in the centuries following its construction. In the 16th century, it took on its current appearance although it had to be restored repeatedly because of fires, until it was equipped in 1776 with a lightning rod.
Galileo and St. Mark’s Campanile
In the 16th century, Galileo used St. Mark’s Campanile for the observations based on which he designed his astronomical telescope. Admission is free for even demonstrated his telescope publicly at the top of the tower.
The collapse of st. Mark’s Campanile
In 1902, cracks began to appear on the campanile and local authorities defined a security perimeter around the tower. On July 14th 1902, at 10 a.m., St. Mark’s Campanile collapsed. Miraculously, no victim was to be deplored (except for the cat of the caretaker…) St. Mark’s Basilica, located but a few metres away, did not suffer any damage.
The new St. Mark’s Campanile
On the same night of the accident, the City Council of Venice endorsed the construction of a new bell tower identical to the previous one. Work began less than a year later and the new bell tower was completed in March 1912, almost 10 years after the collapse of the previous one. Venetians nicknamed the new building “com’era dov’era” (as it was, where it was).
There are 3 replicas of St. Mark’s Campanile throughout the world:
- one in Las Vegas, built in the 1990s
- one at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida
- one in Manila, Philippines
Visiting St. Mark’s Campanile
The exterior of St. Mark’s Campanile
If you are afraid of heights, better to simply admire the campanile from St. Mark’s Square!
Square in shape,St. Mark’s Campanile is 98 metres high and 12 metres wide. The base of the tower, which is 50 metres high, is surmounted by an open space in which the bells of the watchtower are situated. Then comes a section decorated with lions and allegories of Venice, and finally the spire, topped with golden weather vane representing Angel Gabriel.
St. Mark’s Campanile counts 5 bells in total, each of which plays a very specific role:
- The Marangona heralds the beginning and end of the working day
- The Nona rings noon
- The Trotteria announces a meeting of the Great Council
- The Mezza Terza announces a session of the Senate
- The Malefico announces an execution
The view from the top of St. Mark’s Campanile
An elevator leads to an observatory located at the top of St. Mark’s Campanile. From there, the view on the “Serenissima” (Venice) is absolutely stunning! On a clear day, it is even possible to distinguish some islands in the Venetian lagoon, including Murano.
Getting to St. Mark’s Campanile
The nearest vaporetto stops are San Zaccaria and San Marco. They are served by lines 1, 2, 41, 42, 51, 52, N and LN.
St. Mark’s Campanile is open every day, but opening times depend vary throughout the year:
- From April 16th to October 31st, St. Mark’s Campanile is open from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- From November 1st to March 31st, St. Mark’s Campanile is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- From April 1st to April 15th, St. Mark’s Campanile is open from 9am to 5pm.
To ascend the St. Mark’s Bell Tower, a full-price ticket will cost you 8€, while a reduced-price ticket for students and others will cost 4€.
👉 Skip the lines: book your tickets and visits in Venice!
👉 Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all of Captain Ulysses’ suggestions!
🛏️ Accommodation: Venice is a very touristy city and there is no shortage of accommodation, but they are generally rather expensive. If your budget is tight, Captain Ulysses suggests staying in Mestre, out of town. Accommodation is much more affordable and buses reach Venice very regularly.
As for mid-range options, Captain Ulysses highly recommends Hotel Le Isole. This hotel is very very well located a few steps from Saint Mark’s Square and the rooms are spacious and elegant… not to mention that breakfast is very good.
And if you’re looking for a more luxurious option in Venice, then Captain Ulysses most definitely recommends the Londra Palace nestled in a Venetian palace on the Riva degli Schiavoni.
🎟️ Activities: Tickets, guided tours, gondola tours, day-trips… There are plenty of things to do in Venice! But the city is often packed with tourists, which is why Captain Ulysses recommend that you book your activities online and opt for skip-the-line tickets. The Captain suggests having a look at GetYourGuide and Tiqets, which are online platforms specialised in selling tourist activities worldwide.
⛵ Cruises: Venice is synonymous gondola and vaporetto. As an accomplished sailor, Captain Ulysses can only recommend that you embark on a boat ride on the Venetian canals. But beware of scams: some gondoliers tend to take advantage of tourists! That’s why the Captain advises that you book your boat tour on a reputable website here.
🎫 Citypass: If you’re planning on visiting all of Venice’s top sights, Captain Ulysses recommends you to opt for a Citypass, which will give you access to a selection of the city’s must-see sights and monuments. There’s a variety of citypasses to choose from depending on what you’re looking for. Find out more here.
🚐 Transfers:To get to Venice from the airport, you’ll have three options: bus, vaporetto (orange Alilaguna Arancio line), or water taxi. It’s up to you to choose the option that works best for you! Be aware, however, that the historic centre is pedestrian, and buses and taxis are not allowed to operate there.
🚌 Local transport: Get ready to walk! The historic centre is not accessible to buses or cars.
The local kind of public transport is the vaporetto: boats travelling on the water. If you’re planning on using the vaporetto regularly (in Venice or to visit the surrounding islands like Murano and Burano), or if you are staying in Mestre and have to take the bus to Venice everyday, you might want to consider opting for a Public Transport Pass. You can book it here.
✈️ Flights: Venice is a city easily accessible by plane, train and bus. To book your plane tickets, Captain Ulysses recommends Skyscanner, which allows you to compare countless flights to find the best deal. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights possible. Overnight trains are also a great way to save time (and money) ! For more information, visit Omio.