San Marco The San Marco district is the real heart of Venice and it dazzles visitors with its beauty. It has been for more than a millennium the commercial, religious, cultural and political centre of the city. The district is anchored by the “Piazza San Marco” and the “Basilica di San Marco” to the south and the Rialto Bridge to the north and it includes the adjacent San Giorgio Maggiore Island. San Marco is with no doubt the best known and most visited district in Venice. Piazza San Marco is the centre of this area, renowned throughout the world, framed by fine buildings built at different times which blend together, giving an unmatched performance. Here stands out the Basilica of San Marco with its Byzantine-Gothic-style décor and the Doge’s Palace, ancient symbol of power of the Republic of Venice. Other important buildings are the Coreer Museum and the Clock Tower, consisting of a central tower and two side wings added later. The Clock Tower introduces the visitor to the “Mercerie”, one of the richest and most famous shopping and fashion district. Moving away from Piazza San Marco towards the tony “Riva degli Schiavoni”, from the the Straw Bridge you can enjoy a splendid view of the “Ponte dei Sospiri” (Bridge of Sighs) and of the nearby Palace of Prisons. San Marco is also the musical heart of Venice, home to the legendary La Fenice Opera House; devastated by a fire in 1996, it was reopened in 2005 after an extensive restoration.