venice city of st. marc
The one most prominent structure in all of Venice is the very lofty Campanile di San Marco. To quote a presenter in a documentary I watched on YouTube in anticipation of the trip, it is like a 'giant exclamation mark'. Located in Piazza San Marco, it is the bell tower of Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco [St. Mark's Basilica]
Yes 'Mark' as in the author of the Gospel of Mark in the Bible. It is said that the Venetian merchants of old stole the relics of St. Mark from Alexandria over a thousand years ago and brought it to Venice. The original basilica was built to house the relic, as well as all the other loot such as the four horses of Alexandra the Great. Turns out the merchants got rich from not only trade, but theft. Fast forward to 2014 - Cities of London, New York, Frankfurt, Paris, Tokyo.. It appears nothing has changed.
I was mind-blown by the magnificence of the horses as I stood before them in absolute silence for about 15 minutes. In that period of time, I was the only tourist in the room with them. For a moment, I could imagine what Alexandra would have seen when these horses were first presented to him that long ago. Even in the days of Mark 2,000 years ago these horses were already antiques of a thousand years!
Alas! no photos are allowed in sacred places in Venice, including the Basilica. [Yes of course many tourists took photos anyway in typical disregard for authority and respect for sanctity].
It is ever so difficult to take photos in the Piazza as it is jam packed with tourists almost all the time. Apparently there is a window between 3am and 5am when you can get a clear shot, but I missed the window by 2 hours in the morning when already the queues were longer than at an Apple store on a new iPhone day. From the top of the Campanile though, you can view and take pictures the entirety of Venice.