Visit The Imposing Basilica Of San Marco In Venice
The Saint Mark’s basilica â which in Italian is called the Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco â is the largest church in Venice. However, the church you see toay is not the first building of the church. The current building is now the third church that was built on this site. The Basilica of San Marco is located on the square and was built around the year 1060.
The Treasure Of St Marks
The Treasure of St. Marks is a collection of precious objects and masterpieces kept inside of the Basilica throughout the centuries. Youll see ancient vases, amphorae, enameled glasses covered in precious stones displayed throughout the perimeter.
The collection consists of 283 pieces in Gold, Silver, and other precious metals. The most interesting objects and also the bulk of the collection are objects that were brought to Venice after the conquest of Constantinople.
Campanile The Freestanding Bell Tower
The phenomenal Campanile with Patrician-Loggetta was reconstructed after its spectacular collapse from 1902 in an unchanged form. The magnificent bronze horses over the main entrance had to be replaced with copies in order to protect the originals from air pollution. The four horses were stolen from Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. Today they are lying in the Museo di San Marco.
The Campanile of Venice is the original bell tower of St. Marks Basilica. Its height is almost 100 meters, making it the tallest building in Venice. After a varied history, the imposing building is now seen as the landmark of the city. The bell tower of the Campanile can be accessed with a lift and offers visitors a fantastic view over Venice and the lagoon with shipping activities.
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Exploring The Golden Picture Book Of St Marks Cathedral Discovering History
St Marks Basilica was completed in 1073 replacing the original church of the Doges Palace. According to the Byzantine model, the church was planned as a central building on Greek cross with five domes and vestibules. It may be the most beautiful church in the world. Thus, a city like Venice, which unfortunately cannot prove any ancient lead, resorted to artistic means in order to make its main church appear a little older.
Those who are bothered by the tourist crowds should know: The St Marks Cathedral has always served for purely mundane purposes. Finally, the cathedral was the palace chapel of the Doge. Here the Doge was praised by his choice for centuries. At this point, valuable loot, which had been snatched from the Muslims on the high seas, was also housed. Yes, even robbed relief plates and columns. Most of the statues, reliefs and capitals the church are decorated inside and out with, came to Venice from the Levant as booty.
St. Marks Basilica was once Venices best-kept vault.
The Big Outer Domes Above The Basilica Are Actually Fake
In Venice its impossible to build huge structures: the terrain is frail, so you have to carefully stick to small, light and flexible buildings. But the Venetians had to find a way to astonish their guests: so they optimized some very clever tricks to cheat the eye and give everyone the impression that the buildings are huge and imposing.
In St. Marks Basilica there is a great example of this: the five big domes that give the building its distinctive shape are just a superstructure made of wood cover with a thin layer of lead. They are actually completely empty: the brick built domes with the mosaics that you see inside the church are much lower.
We can arguably say that the only role of those big emtpy domes is to make the building look much bigger than it really is: this way the ships approaching the city could recognize its shape from afar, and be even more astonished by the legendary city rising from the waters.
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Tips And Tours: How To Make The Most Of Your Visit To St Mark’s Basilica
- Timing: This is one of the top attractions in the city, so expect to wait in a long line. The best times to arrive are very early morning and around noon, when tour groups go to lunch. Or you can avoid lines entirely by reserving a time in advance through the website.
- Tours: One way to both avoid the lines and make sure that you find all the highlights is to take a Skip the Line Venice Walking Tour with St. Mark’s Basilica. You’ll bypass the queue and learn more about the basilica’s mosaics, gold work, art, and other treasures from a well-informed guide who will also point out the architectural features of the basilica and other monuments around Piazza San Marco and elsewhere in Venice. To experience the grandeur of St. Mark’s and its mosaics in a different light and without crowds, join a St Mark’s Basilica After-Hours Small Group Tour with Optional Doge’s Palace. As the guide leads you and a few others to view the crypt, the Palo d’Oro, and other highlights, you’ll learn both the history and artistry of the basilica. With the optional extension, you will also tour the Doge’s Palace without crowds.
- Dress Code: This is a place of worship, so dress accordingly .
- Best Views: For the best views of the mosaics, go to the gallery, near the entrance to the museum. Bring binoculars for a closer look.
- Food and Drink: Cafés and restaurants are all around St. Mark’s Square and along the Grand Canal, only a few steps from the basilica.
A Little History Of The Basilica Of St Mark
Originally this building was to be an extension of the Doges Palace, however the construction of the Basilica of St. Mark, which began in 828 and ended in 832, was made to house the body of St. Mark the Apostle brought from Alexandria to who they named protector of the city. This was a fundamental fact for Venice to be constituted as an independent episcopal seat.
The works of the present basilica began in 1063 in Byzantine style to represent the power of the prosperous Venetian Republic. This basilica was built respecting the model of two basilicas of the ancient imperial city of Byzantium with a central plant in the shape of a Greek cross, with five large domes and a particular mixture of ancient and oriental art.
Over time, the Basilica underwent several modifications, especially as regards of decoration, pointed Gothic arches, Sant’Alipio arch, 17th and 18th century sculptures and mosaics of the main façade, bas-reliefs that represent the professions and zodiac signs of the central gate, the marbles that come from the East, the porphyry figures of the Tetrarchs and the horses of St. Mark. The result is a stunning and beautiful blend of styles.
The basilica as we know it today, even though it was modify, has a Greek cross base with five domes. It became the cathedral of the city in 1807 and has more than 4,000 square meters of mosaics, many of them belonging to the 13th century, also has 500 columns of the 3rd century.
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North And South Faades
Until 1503, when the south facade was enclosed, it was intended to be an imposing ceremonial entrance facing the lagoon. But even with the Doge’s Palace covering a good part of it, this façade is still an arresting sight from the Grand Canal. Sculptures and mosaics add to its richly detailed architecture. Along with the two griffins in the first arch, notice the 13th-century Byzantine mosaic of the Virgin between the arches of the upper floor.
In front of the facade are two marble pilasters, Pilastri Acritani, covered in magnificent sixth-century reliefs. Like St. Mark himself, these were spoils of war, carried off by Venetians in 1256 from the port of Acre. The sculpture of the Tetrarchs on the corner was hewn from porphyry, probably in Egypt in the fourth century.
The north facade facing the Piazzetta dei Leoncini, contains the Porta dei Fiori, the Door of Flowers, with a beautiful 13th-century relief of the Nativity, framed by foliage, angels, and prophets. Two other reliefs are the seventh- or eighth-century depiction of a judge’s throne with six sheep on each side , and Alexander the Great’s chariot, drawn by griffins, from the 10th century.
Safety First No Luggage In The Cathedral Allowed
For safety reasons, it is not allowed to carry bags or backpacks during the visit to the cathedral. In the entrance area, the visitors are controlled in small groups. There are strict baggage checks. To the left of the church, at the north gate of the Piazetta, there is luggage storage. Friendly guards and security personnel will gladly show you the way to the Ateneo San Basso. You have to leave your bags before queueing.
Even the advertised, sightseeing without queue, do not exclude the security checks. As everywhere with larger crowds, you should beware of pickpockets.
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Mosaic And Marble Inlays
The mosaic used in copious amounts through St. Mark’s Basilica is made from ground gold. It lights up the entire Basilica in a warm glow when sunlight creeps in. As for the marble inlays, the Basilicas floor are flooded with marble designed in geometric patterns. These marble inlays cover over 2099 sq.m in hues of earth tones interspersed with animal and floral designs.
St Marks Basilica Opening Hours And Tickets
The visit inside the Saint Marks Basilica lasts about 10 minutes.Visitors are recommended to respect the sacred place, in particular:
- Clothes be appropriate for a place of worship
- You cannot enter the basilica with luggage. Luggage must be deposited in Ateneo San Basso
- Loud explanations are not allowed, the use of earphones is permitted.
- Basilica: 9.45 a.m. 5.00 p.m. Sunday and holidays: 2.00 p.m. 4.00 p.m.
- St. Marks Museum: 9.45 a.m. 4.45 p.m.
- Pala doro: 9.45 a.m. 4.00 p.m. Sunday and holidays: 2.00 p.m. 4.00 p.m.
- Treasury: 9.45 a.m. 4.00 p.m. Sunday and holidays: 2.00 p.m. 4.00 p.m.
- Basilica: 9.45 a.m. 5.00 p.m. Sunday and holidays: 2.00 p.m. 5.00 p.m.
- St. Marks Museum: 9.45 a.m. 4.45 p.m.
- Pala doro: 9.45 a.m. 5.00 p.m. Sunday and holidays: 2.00 p.m. 5.00 p.m.
- Treasury: 9.45 a.m. 5.00 p.m. Sunday and holidays: 2.00 p.m. 5.00 p.m.
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How Long To Budget For Your Visit
Short Answer: 60 minutes
If you are the kind of person who just likes to get a feel for a monument, then 60 minutes is perfect to not delve too much in-depth. If you prefer looking more into specifics to get to really know your way around the church then you should set aside 1.5-2 hours, especially if you are to include the museum. There are some stairs to climb up to the 2nd floor, but nothing too intense.
There Is Enough Mosaic To Cover 15 American Football Fields
There are more than 85,000 square feet of mosaic in St. Marks Basilica or enough mosaic to cover over 1.5 American football fields! The mosaics were done over 8 centuries, mostly in gold, and the result is astonishing. Enter the basilica at different times of day to see how the light makes the colors, and scenes, look different.
Just one of the dozens of mosaics in St. Marks Basilica
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St Marks Cathedral Entrance Fees And Guided Tours
The admission to the Basilica di San Marco is free.
Art and culture enthusiasts are may be interested in guided tours or paid visits to Campanile bell tower, the Pala dOro , the St Marks Museum or the Treasury.
Everything else included in St. Marks Cathedral admission. As an example of a guided tour in English, there is the following booking option.
|St Mark’s Basilica|
* The price may be subject to change. It always counts the current providers offer.
And It Was The Evangelist Marcus Church
According to the tradition two Venetian merchants allegedly abducted St Mark of Egypt to Venice in 828, hiding him among salt pork halves. On a pillar on the right of the main altar, this scene is shown. Around this relic, the church grew over the centuries.
Today, it combines an impressive mix of Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic styles. Strangely enough, St Marks Basilica did not become the episcopal church of Venice until 1807. Until then, this had been San Pietro di, Castello.
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St Marks Basilica Is Not The Oldest One Nor The Biggest Church In Venice
The St. Marks basilica was built starting from the IX century: but the history of Venice starts way before that moment, in the V-VI century. So there are churches around the city that predate the most important monument: according to the historians, the oldest holy building of the city could be the church of San Giacometto, very close to the Rialto bridge. The Rialto area was, in fact, the first spot that was colonized when the islands started to be populated: the city of Venice was actually called Rialto for the first centuries.
Despite its enormous size, at least in proportion with the other buildings of the city, St. Marks Basilica is also not the biggest church: this title goes to the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, home to the very powerful Dominican monastic order. Their monastery was so big that when Napoleon conquered Venice he chose that building to become the first big public hospital of the city: and the hospital is there still today! You can learn more about San Giacometto and Santi Giovanni e Paolo if you take the Welcome to Venice tour or the Venice in a Day tour, which both feature these very important churches!
Special thanks goes to our Walks of Italy guide Mosè Viero for sharing these additional interesting facts about St. Marks Basilica.
If you want to learn more, check out our experiences in Venice of both St. Marks Basilica and the Doges Palaceor, for a really VIP visit, access St. Marks Basilica after hours, when its closed to the public!
Impressive Interior With Mosaics
As soon as you enter the church, you will be amazed. There is so much to see that you would prefer to sit quietly in the benches for a few hours. The colors of the mosaic on the ceilings of the church â where the gold and clear blue in particular stand out sharply against the rest â allow the depictions of angels and Christian scenes to come into their own. The marble pillars and the marble on the floors are sober and at the same time they give all the splendor. Also pay attention to the small windows that allow a little daylight to enter. They give this basilica its own unique appearance.
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That Bell Tower It Collapsed Once
The 323-foot campanile of St. Marks dates back to the 9th century but it had to be rebuilt in 1903. The reason? It collapsed! It had been reworked in the 16th century, and apparently not that well.
It collapsed on July 14, 1902. . Although it buried the Basilicas balcony in rubble, fortunately, the church itself was saved. But the incident was embarrassing enough!
From 1903 to 1912, the bell tower was rebuilt exactly as it had been except with better, safer techniques.
The belltower of St. Marks Basilica towers high above the square
Ok we mentioned six, but since were on a roll, here are more fascinating insights:
St Mark The Evangelist
On January 31 of the year 828 the relics of the patron saint Mark, which were in Alexandria in Egypt, are adventurously moved to Venice and welcomed by the Doge Giustiniano Particiaco.
In those times the relics represented a powerful social and economic aggregator, attracting pilgrims and merchants.
Every relic is therefore welcome and that of St. Mark is particularly welcome in Venice, as that Saint would have evangelized the Venetian people, becoming their patron and emblem in the form of a winged lion , armed with a sword and equipped with a book on which, in time of peace, you can read the phrase Pax Tibi Marce Evangelista Meus a book that is threateningly closed when the sword, instead of discriminating between good and evil, is stained with warrior blood.
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Venice Achieved The Peak Of Its Glory With The 4th Crusade Of Which The Doge Enrico Dandolo Was Both Artificer And Protagonist At The End Of The 12th Century Diplomatic And Political Relations Between Constantinople And Venice Were Apparently Cordial And Venice Continued To Benefit From Its Ancient Trade Concessions In The East
Nevertheless, Venice had not yet erased the memory of a blow inflicted at Constantinople in 1171 by the emperor Manuel when ten thousand Venetians had been arrested and massacred.
When the occasion presented itself Venice did not renounce revenge, taking advantage of usurpations in the East for succession to the empire on the death of emperor Manuel Comnenus.
It appears that even before the Crusade troops gathered in Venice in 1202, to be taken to the East in aid of the Christians against the Sultan of Egypt, there had been secret agreements between the Christian commander barons and the Doge Enrico Dandolo: instead of going to Egypt the expedition would head first to Constantinople and put the young and persecuted Alexis back on the usurped throne.
He had promised, should he become emperor once more, to supply considerable means for the Christian venture.
In spite of excommunications by Pope Innocent III, who saw the failure of the expedition against the Unbelievers, the new plan was accepted.
In April 1203 the Crusaders army reached Constantinople, attacked the city and took it. The young emperor they restored to the throne was killed in an uprising.
The Crusaders conquered the city for the second time on their own account in 1204 and, proclaiming the fall of the ancient Eastern Empire, they established, on old Dandolos proposal, that the whole territory and its vast riches should be divided among the participants.