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The San Marco district is delimited to the north by the Grand Canal; to the south, where the square overlooks the Venetian Lagoon, from the San Marco basin; to the west by the Rio del Palazzo; to the east by the Rio de San Zulian. The district borders to the north with the Cannaregio district and to the east with the Castello district, it connects to the San Polo district through the Rialto Bridge and to the Dorsoduro district through the Accademia Bridge. Administratively, the San Marco district also includes the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.

Originally its name was Rivoalto - from which Rialto also comes - and it is the original nucleus of the city. In the initial period of life it was also called Civitas Rivoalti precisely in reference to the area of ​​its foundation. Piazza San Marco is naturally the heart of the district: for a millennium it was the political, decision-making and judicial center of the Republic of Venice. Not only that, it is here that the main event of the Venice Carnival took place, a tradition that has survived to the present day.

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