Second time I visited Venice after dark. It was much less crowded, quieter and more peaceful, since the hordes of tourists have long left the square for dinner or to call it a day. I could spend some quality time to enjoy the square, the church, the buildings without being afraid of bumping into someone else.
The only drawback of a night time visit was that I could only look outside, since all the buildings were all closed. Nevermind, I could trade that for the peace I had in an almost empty Square, even though the long walk back to the train station in the dark alleys was never something to delight about.
Last time I missed the Palazzo Ducale, which stood just beside the cathedral, so here it is. A vast square building, with lots of pillars again, just like the one surrounding the square. It was the former Duke of Venice’s residential palace, now turned into a museum. The walls were made of pink marbles, but it was hard to make it out in the dark. Maybe it would be clearer to see it again during daytime.
Another major tourist spot in Venice is the Bridge of Sigh, made famous by the tale of Casanova’s escape. It connected the courthouse, where the prisoners were sentenced, and the prison where they were locked up or even worse, executed, hence the famous name. It was said that prisoners usually heaved a sigh of sadness as they walked through that bridge since that was the last time they could see the beauty of the world outside, and the bridge faced directly to the amazing lagoon. Yeah, the story was so interesting, but the bridge was actually quite small and normal, and without that tale it would certainly not be so famous after all 😁
Back to the cathedral. It was named after St. Mark, one of the twelve disciples, and the protector of Venice. His sarcophagus was stolen from Constantinople, where he was first buried, back to Venice by some brave and witty merchants, and buried inside this church. The beauty of the church was the gold plated mosaics on the ceilings inside, but since it was closed at night, that would have to wait. For now, the only thing I could do was to enjoy the rich decorations outside.
I was still more interested in the long building covering the square. It created a very strong impression, especially when you walked out from the small alley, and suddenly found out that you were in the open air, and the space was so big and so spacious. It was really a wow feeling after all. Other squares that I had seen before were more open. It was similar to the square at The Uffizi in Florence, but this one seemed to be bigger. There were two cafes with tables on the square, but they seemed to close quite early, maybe due to low demand at night. They were Super expensive compared to other cafes in Venice though, so I might not sit down there after all 😂
Then I went to the water front to take a look at the lagoon. It was very quiet, all the gondolas were parked. Must have been bustling during the day. Anyway, theses fragiles gondolas would only be suitable to the gentle canals, and would not survive the high tidal waves of the open sea itself.
One more thing I noticed this time. Near the church there was a clock tower. Not so tall, but there was a statue of two men with hammers on top. And they could move. They hit the big bell every 15 minutes to tell the time. I was quite surprised to discover that, I thought they were just for decoration only 🙂
As the symbol of St. Mark was the winged lion, you could basically find them everywhere in Venice. On the Venice flag. On building facades. On monuments and decorations. And of course in souvenirs. A powerful figure that exuded strength and might. Here was how it looked, on the facade of a building beside the church.
It was getting late, so I said farewell to the place and started my walk back home. It was a long walk, but since I knew the way this time, I could care less about getting lost and focused more on what I saw on the way, and there were quite interesting things. Of course, there were masks. Countless masks. Venice is the city of masks. There were masks of different designs almost everywhere, even though there are not many carnivals nowadays (there were a lot of them during the heydays of the city a few hundred years ago). Some are normal, others are quite elaborate, and some are just plain scary, like someone looking at you. 😨
Passed by a toy duck shop. Very cute rubber ducks inside (and lots of them). Made a mental note to come back here again when it was open. Bee and Emma would surely love those colorful stuffs, I guess.