St Mark's Clocktower

Venice, Italy

St. Mark's Clock Tower in Venice is an early Renaissance building on the north side of the Piazza San Marco, at the entrance to the Merceria. It comprises a tower, which contains the clock, and lower buildings on each side. Both the tower and the clock date from the last decade of the 15th century, though the mechanism of the clock has subsequently been much altered.

It was placed where the clock would be visible from the waters of the lagoon and give notice to everyone of the wealth and glory of Venice. The lower two floors of the tower make a monumental archway into the main street of the city, the Merceria, which linked the political and religious centre (the Piazza) with the commercial and financial centre (the Rialto).

The first clock housed in the tower was built and installed by Gian Paolo and Gian Carlo Rainieri, father and son, between 1496 and 1499, and was one of a number of large public astronomical clocks erected throughout Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries. The clock has had an eventful horological history, and been the subject of many restorations, some controversial.

Stairways (steep and narrow) inside the building give access to the terrace on the roof, passing the clock mechanism on the way. Tours (in Italian, English and French) must be booked in advance.

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San Marco 288, Venice, Italy
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Founded: 1496
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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Claudio Paggiarin (2 years ago)
Amazing visit!! Professional guide and best point of view for looking St.Mark square. Very interesting knowing how the clock machine works
J Bost (3 years ago)
A really nice sample of Venetian architecture. Overlooking Piazza San Marco, this is worth the visit.
Gerry E (3 years ago)
Fascinating clock design. Did not get a chance to go up the tower but our tour guide gave very detailed historical background on its significance in Venice's past.
Aidan Leach (3 years ago)
Greatest tour. With a maximum of 12 people, you get an intimate look into how the clock tower works, including the first "digital" clock. Also you get great views of the church and Venetian rooftops from the top of the tower and get a close look at the bell and its pants-deficient ringers!
Donald Crowley (3 years ago)
The view from the top of the tower is spectacular, and worth the wait in line. To avoid the long line consider getting a voucher to skip the line. There is only one elevator available to take visitors to the top, so you can imagine how quickly the que moves.
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