St. Mark's Campanile is a 98-metre high structure located in St Mark's Square. The original structure was finished in 1514, although the bell tower has stood in the square since the 10th century. The bell tower is the work of Renaissance master Bertola Bon. It collapsed without warning on 14 July 1902 and was subsequently rebuilt in 1912.
The St. Mark's Campanile offers splendid panoramic views of the city, and is well worth a visit. Venetians love it so much that they call it 'el paron de casa'. Initially, under the shadow of the Campanile there were taverns and wooden shops used for drinking alcohol. In memory of those taverns, when Venetians want to have a drink they say 'ndemo a bevar un ombra Cio`!'.
The bell tower originally served as a lookout tower for incoming ships.
The tower's bells, in addition to their religious function, were used to warn the population of important events. The tower contains five bells donated by Pope Pius X and each has its own name. The tolling of the 'Marangona', the only original bell, marked the beginning and end of work for the Arsenal workers, the so-called Marangoni. The Nona rang at noon and midnight. The Trottiera rang to summon the nobles of the Maggior Consiglio. The Pregadio rang for the Senators or Pregadi to attend the meetings of the Senate. The Maleficent sounded to announce the execution of a criminal. Continuous tolling called the population to assembly for some danger, such as fires. To this day the bells of St Mark's Bell Tower still ring, but only to remind you of the hours and religious ceremonies. Today the Campanile is also used during the Venice Carnival for the famous Flight of the Angel.
To visit the upper part of the St. Mark's Campanile bell tower you have to take the lift. The original stairs of the Campanile were closed to the public in 1980. To reach the upper observation deck you will need to buy a ticket. Opening hours vary depending on the season.
St. Mark's Campanile remains a timeless icon and you're bound to see it if you visit Venice.