Venice

History

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At the end of the twelfth century, by which time the Basilica had been enlarged, the Ducal Castle had become the Doges' Palace, and Venice's power had spread, the Venetians decided that their Piazza should have a more dignified appearance. Under the rule of Doge Sebastiano Ziani (1172-78), it was extended to virtually its present-day size, the Rio Batario was filled in, and the church of San Geminiano demolished Handsome buildings of brick and stone, embellished with porticoes and crenellations, were built all around the square until it looked much as we see it in Gentile Bellini's celebrated painting, Procession in the Piazza San Marco (Accademia Galleries).
A Renaissance Clock Tower, surmounted by the famous "Moors" - two bronze figures who strike the hour on a huge bell - now overlooks the Piazza. On either side of the Piazza are the "Procuratie" (originally the quarters of high-ranking city magistrates).