One of the best views of the city of Venice comes from the bell tower, or campanile of Saint Mark’s Basilica. On a clear day you can see all the way out across the lagoon to the Dolmite mountain range. During my brief trip to Venice, this was definitely the highlight of one of the attractions I was able to visit and should be a place you will want to add to your list.
Don’t let the line fool you. It may look long, but it goes relatively quickly. If you are going in the crowded summer months, consider booking a reservation in advance here. Otherwise, waiting in person is part of the experience. Tickets are going to cost you about 8 Euros for the adult ticket. Discounted tickets are available for students, seniors and EU citizens. Note that you must have a student ID for the discounted tickets.
Brief History of the Tower
The present tower, while impressive, only dates back to 1912. Why? The answer is that the original tower collapsed in 1902. Stress cracks over the poorly maintained infrastructure were allowed to grow until it was too much for the tower to bear.Rebuilding took just over 10 years. The current tower’s form, however dates back to 1514 when Venice was a powerful naval empire. The tower served as a lighthouse for ships arriving into port.
Getting to the Top
Once you obtain your ticket, you will pass through to the queue to wait for the elevator ride to the top. Only about 20 people can fit at one time in the elevator. There are no stairs to walk up. Ensure you keep a close eye on your bags as the elevator can become cramped.
The elevator ride takes about 3 minutes ad will let you out into an open air tower. It was pretty chilly when I went up. I would have a sweater with you just in case. The tower shows the North, South, East and West faces of Venice and is well worth the 8 Euros for the photos you can get.
The platform can become crowded and the average person will only spend 5-10 minutes at the top, however, there is no time limit. Spend all the time you want. I particularly enjoyed seeing the bells and people watching the people in the piazza below.
If you are able to be in one of the last groups in the tower up to the top in the evening, the bell tower makes for a magnificent place to view a Venetian sunset. Likewise, if it is raining or there is a high tide, the piazza will be flooded. Be prepared for closures in the event of a flood. The piazza di San Marco is one of the lowest laying parts of the city.
The tower itself if well worth enjoying form the top. As a solo traveler, this is one place I enjoyed having the time to myself to take in the landscape, but if I were traveling with a family, I may reconsider spending the money on kids who wouldn’t enjoy it as much. Even if you are not the biggest fan of heights, this is one place, you may want to try talking yourself into visiting. Until next time, happy travels!