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Piazza San Marco

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: History & Classics

Piazza San Marco

Iain Fenlon

The Piazza San Marco is the most famous townscape in the West. This book is the first to consider it as a coherent whole, as a theatre in which the whole of Venetian history took place, to which it can serve as a highly evocative introduction.

eBook (ePUB/MOBI)?
9781847651976 (9 Dec 2010)

About the book

Piazza San Marco is a dynamic open space organically connected to the buildings which frame it. It shows how much is lost if the ensemble is divided into the individual structures of Doges' Palace, Basilica of San Marco, Campanile and so on, each 'marvellous' in their own right but functionally separate.

Here a different story is told by relating them to each other and to the theatrical piazza of which they form a part; it sees the events that took place there as a barometer of 1,000 years of Venetian history. It recreates not only rituals of the past but also the activities of the present - from the coronation of the Doge and the arrival of the Crusaders' loot, through the pathetic collapse of the Republic, to Death in Venice and the legendary Pink Floyd concert of 1989 - all taking place in an iconic space which the writings of traditional historians have left dead and silent.

About the author

Iain Fenlon is Professor of Historical Musicology in the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of King's College. Most of his writing has been concerned with the social and cultural history of music in Renaissance Italy. His most recent book , Piazza San Marco, appeared in 2009.


Fenlon's book not only brilliantly recalls the square's past history as a grand stage for "carefully choreographed symbolic state rituals" such as the elaborate coronation of a doge, but also brings to life the more mundane activities - from baking bread to selling sex - that the Piazza witnessed. Fenlon has much that is insightful to say about individual buildings, from the Basilica and the Doge's Palace to Jacopo Sansovino's Library and the Campanile, which is perhaps the most recognisable symbol of Venice worldwide, but the strength of his book lies in its emphasis on the importance of this iconic space as a whole to the city's history.

- Nick Rennison, Sunday Times

Additional Information

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: History & Classics