Sitting high above St. Mark’s Square and visible from the Grand Canal, the remarkable clock in St. Mark’s Clock Tower (Torre dell'Orologio) has served as Venice’s official timepiece for more than 500 years. Touring this historic symbol of the city is a highlight of any visit, not least for the sweeping views from the top of the tower.
A unique landmark of Venetian architecture, St. Mark’s Clock Tower is part of a 15th-century building featuring the central tower thought to be designed by Mauro Codussi flanked by two shorter wings on either side. The clock mechanism has changed over time, with a later addition of panels with Roman numerals and Venice’s winged lion symbol, but the two large bronze figures that strike the hours on a bell, the copper statues of the Virgin and Child, and the clock face are all original. The clock displays not only the time of day but also the current zodiac sign and phase of the moon.
A visit to the clock tower is generally included in tours of the highlights of St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), including St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale), and the bell tower; skip-the-line tickets are a must for these popular sights. Tours include an explanation of the internal clock mechanism and a climb to the top of the tower.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Venice clock tower tours must be booked in advance and are led by a specialized guide.
- Children under six years old are not allowed.
- Due to small spaces and steep stairs, the clock tower is not accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
St. Mark’s Clock Tower is located on the north side of St. Mark’s Square, in the center of Venice. The nearest vaporetto (water bus) stop is San Zaccaria.
When to Get There
Venice is one of the most popular destinations in Italy, and can be very crowded in the summer. The best time to visit is from October through March, when the sights around St. Mark’s Square are more pleasant to tour.
The Procession of the Three Magi
One of the most unique features of St. Mark’s Clock Tower is the procession of the three Magi—statues of the three Wise Men led by an angel that emerge from a small doorway to pass in front of the Virgin and Child statues. This happens only twice a year, on the Epiphany (January 6) and on Ascension Day (40 days after Easter Sunday).