Campanile di San Marco (St. Mark’s Bell Tower) is a 98 meters (322 feet) tall bell tower in St. Mark’s Square. A bell tower has risen above the Piazza San Marco since the 10th century, apart from a decade in the early 20th century when the brick structure, by Renaissance master Bertola Bon, collapsed without warning in 14th July 1902.
The view over the city, the Lagoon and the countryside all the way north to the Alps was restored with the completion of a new tower in 1912. St. Mark’s Bell Tower offers amazing panoramic views of the city.
Aside from their religious purpose, the bells in the tower were used to signify different events to the locals. One particular bell rang at the beginning and end of every working day, the larger one, called “La Marangona”, marked the midday lunch hour, and another chimed on the hour, while others called the Senators to the Doge’s Palace for Parliamentary sessions.. The last and smallest bell rang to announce the execution of a criminal. Hammer beating of a bell from the tower would gather the population in times of danger, mainly caused by wildfires. Nowadays the bells are still rung, but only to strike the hours and for religious ceremonies.
The stairs were closed in the late ‘80s, when sightseeing became too crowded. Now you have to take the elevator to reach the top observation deck of the Clock Tower, which provides unique aerial views of Venice. The admission price of €8 per person is definitely high for what is supposed to be a public building, but worth it for the manificent view!
To avoid the long queues and crowds, plan to visit the Campanile at opening times or just before it closes in the early evening. It is open from 9:00 am-7:00 pm daily, but closing hours fluctuate with the seasons so check first before going.