Critics' choice

Campanile review 5 Users say 3/5 Rate it

At almost 99m (325ft), the Campanile is the city's tallest building, originally built between 888 and 912. Its present appearance, with the stone spire and the gilded angel on top, dates from 1514. In July 1902 it collapsed, imploding in a neat pyramid of rubble; the only victim was the custodian's cat. It was rebuilt exactly 'as it was, where it was', as the town council of the day promised.

The Campanile served both as a watchtower and a bell tower. It provided a site for public humiliations: people of 'scandalous behaviour' were hung in a cage from the top. More wholesome fun was provided by the volo dell'anzolo, when an arsenalotto (shipwright) would slide down a rope strung between the Campanile and the Palazzo Ducale at the end of Carnevale.

Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III rode a horse to the top of the original in 1451; these days visitors take the lift. The view is superb, taking in the Lido, the whole lagoon and (on a clear day) the Dolomites in the distance. Sansovino's little Loggetta at the foot of the tower, which echoes the shape of a Roman triumphal arch, was also rebuilt using bits and pieces found in the rubble.

The view of the lagoon from the top of the campanile was memorably described by Ruskin: 'Far as the eye can reach, a waste of wild sea moor, of a lurid ashen grey.' And he concluded with the elegaic words: 'Mother and daughter, you behold them both in their widowhood, Torcello and Venice.' There is no lift, just a stiff walk up steep ramps.

Comment 6 Tweet
Save to foursquare

Campanile details

San Marco,
piazza San Marco

Area Venice

Transport Vaporetto San Marco Vallaresso or San Zaccaria

Open 9.30am-4.15pm daily (til 9pm in summer).

Admission €8; €4 reductions.

Comments & ratings 3/5 (Average of 5 ratings)