St Mark's Square
Basilica di San Marco © Gary Ullah
St Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco) has always been the nucleus of Venice. The city's first citadel and church were erected on its stony foundations: the Palazzo Ducale and the Basilica di San Marco, respectively. The Basilica di San Marco is a unique juxtaposition of Byzantine, western European and Islamic architectural styles. The Basilica's most precious relic is the Pala d'Or, a Venetian-Byzantine gold relief adorned with precious gems. Travellers and pigeons flock to the Piazza with equal zeal. It is the tourists, however, who pay dearly to eat or drink at the elegant cafes that spill onto the pavements. The pigeons are an attraction in themselves for children, and if you are travelling to Venice with kids they will relish the chance to feed the birds in this romantic place. Designer shops line the streets that radiate from the square. There are worthwhile places of interest to explore beyond the square that include the Museo Correr, the Archaeological Museum and the Museo del Risorgimento, which are housed within the Procuratie Nuova. Attached to the Procuratie Vecchie is the triumphal Torre dell'Orologio. The adjoining archway guides one through to the Mercerie, Venice's main commercial street, that stretches to the famous Rialto Bridge.