Traffic lights will control access to St. Mark's Square from 2018

Venice by gondola

St. Mark's Square is, for sure, the historical symbol of Venice. Every year about 40 million people visit the city. An intense flow that many Venetians fear will have negative repercussions on the most emblematic monuments of the city. For this reason, the local government decided months ago to control access to this beautiful square in 2018 by adopting various means.

The first of these seems to be the installation of traffic lights that control access to San Marcos Square. The aim of the City Council is not to close the passage to the iconic square but to guarantee the safety of tourists and city dwellers.

What are these measures?

The other measures would be to establish a time to access the Plaza de San Marcos, for example from 10am. at 18pm, make a reservation in advance to enter the square or close the area in busy seasons, such as weekends and the months of July and August.

At the moment it is planned to start with the installation of the traffic lights and study how the initiative works. When the square is full of tourists, a red light will turn on and other visitors will have to wait until the light turns green, which will indicate that the square has been emptied. The counting of the people will be done by video cameras installed in the square and a computer program will tell in real time how many people are inside.

The Venice City Council intends to collect the data instantly and serve it through the internet so that tourists can consult the number of people in the square. This measure will not affect residents or workers in the area as they will have their own card that will facilitate mobility.

This new regulation would complement the tourist tax that is being applied to visit Venice and that varies depending on the season, the area in which the hotel is located and its category. For example, on the island of Venice, 1 euro per star per night is charged in high season.

Why was this decision made?

The draft of the new regulations comes after Unesco sounded the alarm about the deterioration of Venice, which has held the title of World Heritage Site since 1987.

On the one hand, Venice is sinking little by little and the fact that millions and millions of tourists pass through its streets every day, perhaps it is more than a place as old as this can bear. On the other hand, residents have long protested against what they consider an invasion of tourists, whose behavior is sometimes disrespectful as there are those who bathe in the Canal Grande or dirty the city giving a bad image of it.

In fact, last July some 2.500 residents demonstrated in the historic center fed up with what they consider a contempt for their city. In this way they wanted to draw the attention of UNESCO and the City Council to prevent Venice from becoming a tourist attraction instead of a habitable city. And it is that every day Venice has more tourists and fewer inhabitants. As a curiosity, in 2017 there are only 55.000 inhabitants compared to the 137.150 in the early 60s.

What is Plaza de San Marcos like?

St. Mark's Square is the heart of Venice and one of the most distinguished squares in the world. It is located on one side of the Grand Canal and in it we can see various monuments and sites of great historical-cultural interest such as the Doge's Palace, the Bell Tower or the Basilica, one of the most photographed temples in the world.

Since its origins, San Marcos Square has been a very important and strategic area of ​​the city. Not only from a political point of view (since it was designed and built as an extension of the Doge's Palace) but also culturally since many activities such as markets, processions, theatrical shows or carnival parades have been held there.

This is also where hundreds of pigeons roam freely. They are so used to the human presence that it would not be surprising if they approached you to ask for some food.

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