Basilica di San Marco, Venice

4.5 out of 5 stars 244 Reviews

Piazza San Marco - SAN MARCO

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  • hundwalder's Profile Photo

    Basilica di San Marco artistic detail.

    by hundwalder Updated Mar 26, 2008

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    All five front entrances to the Basilica are adorned with brilliant mosaics, inclusions that look like sparkling jewels, and other intricately carved marble and granite features. This mosaic is of the body of The Christos being taken down from the cross and prepared for burial. The mosaics are some of the best quality I have ever seen. Construction of the Basilica commenced in AD 1063, and even its present stuning appearance dates back 800 years. The basilica is enormous, measuring 176 meters at its longest dimension. The craftsmanship is the best I have seen anywhere.

    Most tourists assume the massive and dominating Basilica di San Marco to be the Catholic cathedral of Venezia. However, it never has been. Note it's location adjacent to the Doges palace. The basilica was indeed a private place of worship for the doge and other wealthy elite of the Venezian empire. Commoners except those hired to perform, were strictly forbidden from entering. The acoustics of the basilica rival those of any theater in the world. Some of the world's greatest composers composed pieces specifically intended to be performed there. Most of the music especially crafted for this basilica can be described as religious music with a spicy secular flare.

    I have definately seen nothing like Basilica di San Marco in all of my travels. Just to think that Mark Twain said that it looks like a warty bug taking a walk. Everybody has an opinion. Must have been some amazing looking bugs inhabiting the Hanibal, Missouri area.

    San Marco Basilica entrance detail
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  • hundwalder's Profile Photo

    Basilica di San Marco panoramic view

    by hundwalder Updated Mar 13, 2008

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    The Basilica of San Marco is probably the most memorable and artistic building that I have ever visited. Most of what you see of the exterior is about 800 years old. The craftsmanship and the quality of construction defies anything that I have ever seen. The mosaics above the five front entranceways and throughout the interior of the basilica are masterpieces. There are thousands of square meters of them. Exquisite sculpture, carving, and artistic shapes are found throughout the entire 180 meter long complex. Byzantine and gothic architecture are blended in perfect harmony.

    hint: Buy a 3 euro " museum " ticket which gives you excellent views of the basilica from the messanine level, free reign of the excellent museum, which includes the original famous statue of the horses and detailed well preserved intricate mosaics, and the chance to walk around on the vast exterior balconies. Waiting time in line is a fraction of the wait for the free entance to the basilica. You will probably spend a lot of money to visit Venezia. Don't spend 2 hours of your time standing in line for a 10 minute free visit of the basilica interior.

    Venetian crusaders looted and exhumed the tomb of San Marco ( the author of the gospel of St. Mark ) at Alexandria, Egypt, in AD 828, returned his remains to Venezia, stored them with the Doges for a couple hundred years, then built this incredible basilica to house them. This gave Venezia the religious prominance this commercial power had long hungered for. Many more looted treasures adorn the basilica and piazza. The symbol of San Marco is the ever present winged lion, seen displayed in a central position of prominance over the grand entrance way.

    Basilica di San Marco and pigeons
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    Saint Mark's Basilica - Basilica di San Marco

    by grayfo Written Mar 5, 2008

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    St Mark's Basilica is the most famous of Venice’s churches and lies on St Mark’s Square next to the Palace of the Doges. Since 1807 it has been the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice.

    The Basilica was built over several centuries; the first church was consecrated in 832 and has since been frequently transformed and enriched with precious treasures, often from the Far East. The architecture is a mixture of Byzantine, Roman and Venetian.

    email biblioteca.proc@atriarcatovenezia.it

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  • olgaehr's Profile Photo

    St Mark's Basilica

    by olgaehr Updated Jan 18, 2008

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    Honestly I don't want to butcher St Mark's Basilica description, Wiki can do a much better job. It contains tons of art, architecture, history. From what I learned, Venetians stole St Mark's body from Alexandria and built the Basilica over his burial place.

    There are a few small separate sections-museums. There is a treasure museum with separate cost and upper section with separate cost too. Treasure museum is a bit freaky, lots of relics to look at.

    No photography allowed inside.

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  • ukirsari's Profile Photo

    the murals, chamber and bronze horses

    by ukirsari Updated Jan 18, 2008

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    exploring saint mark cathedral. the murals are beautiful. and the patron of saint mark himself that delivered by venetian merchants to replaced the previous patron of venice. at the roof, can be seen the replicas of bronze horses from byzantium. they kept the originals in the museum nearby in the complex of saint mark's cathedral.

    the last supper and bronze horses (c) ukirsari
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  • nihandenis's Profile Photo

    Do not go with your backpack

    by nihandenis Updated Nov 4, 2007

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    It was very crowded but really worth to see inside. See the frescos & mosaics made by rubies, diamonds & emeralds. Do not go there with your back pack as the staff do not let you inside of the basilica.

    Basilica Di San Marco Piazza San Marco
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  • bren1125's Profile Photo

    Basilica of San Marco

    by bren1125 Written Sep 14, 2007

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    One of the most valuable churches in the world.

    It is home to over 4,000 feet of mosaic artwork, covering every surface of the interior with rubies, diamonds, emeralds, precious marbles and gold.

    The winged lion on the church is the symbol of Venice.

    Basilica of San Marco Basilica of San Marco Basilica of San Marco
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    Basilica di San Marco

    by ruki Updated Aug 14, 2007

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    This spectacularly church in Byzantine style located of course on Piazza San Marco. I don't know what is more impressive (interior or outside). At the top center of church there is the golden winged lion which is the symbol of Venice. There are five entrance doors with great decorated arches above. The central entrance is the largest one. All decorations and facade are of mosaics, arches and portals and there are so beautiful.

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  • msbrandysue's Profile Photo

    St. Mark's Basilica

    by msbrandysue Updated Jul 30, 2007

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    St. Mark's Basilica, or in Italian Basilica di San Marco a Venezia, is the most famous church in Venice. The first St Mark's was a temporary building in the Doge’s Palace, constructed in 828. This was replaced by a new church on its present site in 832. The new church was burned in a rebellion in 976, rebuilt in 978 and again to form the basis of the present basilica in 1063. Recently, historian Andrew Chugg has suggested that the body of St. Mark interred in the Basilica may be the body of Alexander the Great. Chugg bases his theory on the fact that Alexander's body was "lost" at about the same time as the body of St. Mark was "found" in Alexandria and taken to Venice. They are currently trying to get the Vatican to allow investigation of the body.

    While just staring in awe at the basilica make sure to notice the Triumphal Quadriga or Horses of Saint Mark. This was, personally, the best story behind the basilica. A quadriga is a four-horse chariot, raced in the Olympic Games and other sacred games, and represented the usual chariot of gods and heroes on Greek vases and bas-reliefs. The quadriga was adopted in ancient Roman chariot racing. Quadrigas became a natural emblem of triumph, victory or fame. In classical mythology, quadrigas were the vehicles of the gods; Apollo was often depicted driving his quadriga across the heavens, bringing daylight with him and dispersing the darkness of night. Well, in 1797, Napoleon carried the quadriga off to Paris where they were used in the design of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. From that date Italians have HATED Napoleon. After Napoleon was captured the Venetians went to Paris and brought their horses back home. However, due to the effects of atmospheric pollution, the original quadriga was retired to a museum and replaced with a replica in the 1980s. The Triumphal Quadriga in Venice is the only surviving ancient quadriga. Don't bypass these historical markers.

    Much of the historical information was taken from Wikipedia.

    The Basilica in the background The Quadriga
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    Basillica di San Marco Free Tour

    by SJTravel Written Jul 9, 2007

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    St. Mark's Basillica offers free tours in English, French, and Italian at 11AM almost every day. The tour meets in the Atrium of the Basillica and starts a little after 11. Don't be fooled because before 11AM, there is another tour that meets outside and costs money. The tour guide will tell you that the tour includes all of the entrance fees to the basillica (which it does) but it also includes the tour fee (I can't remember off the top of my head what that is though). But if you just wait in line and get into the Atrium, then you can get the Basillica's operated free tour. I really recommend the tour. My tour guides name was Renzi and she was absolutely fabulous. She gave us great information about the Basillica and Venice in general. The tour is only supposed to last an hour, but ours ended up lasting about 1.5 hours, which I thought was great. We asked a lot of questions and instead of skimping on information so that we could end when the hour was up, she let us know everything she had. I definitely recommend this tour if you have the time. The tour guide is also going to recommend going to see the Golden Altar piece, it does't cost very much to go and see it, but it isn't that great. It is nice if you like gold and seeing a bunch of jems, but I didn't think it was that worth it (for the time or the money). I think it is better to spend the money on a souvenir, unless you like things like that. I love art, but I just didn't think it was as spectacular as it was described. However, I definitely recommend the free guided tour because it will make you appreciate the Basillica and Venice in a way you wouldn't prior to that. The Basillica holds a lot of political and religious symbolism both for Venice and for the church itself. And it also allows you to linger in the atrium and really get a good look, which you wouldn't get to if you were just going on your own.

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    St Marks

    by fishandchips Updated Mar 18, 2007

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    This church has been called the best church in Europe by the likes of Napoleon and I can see why. It is truely magnificent.

    From the far side of the square the arches and spires look like something out of another age - and of course they are - the Byzantine age. Inside the church is okay (better lighting would help) with many frescos and mozaics keeping your eyes moving - as do the guards given the press of people trying to get in.

    The best time to visit here is early morning before the crowds and tour groups arrive. The queues to get in can get very long. In the evening the church is unbelievable with the sun reflecting off the churches golden front - the hawkers and tour groups have also gone so it's really a special time.

    Be prepared for everything from beggars to excited visitors in and around the church.

    St Marks
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  • Lcannar's Profile Photo

    San Marco

    by Lcannar Updated Mar 11, 2007

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    This was far more beautiful that shows in photos. It was not as large as many cathedrals that I have seen. It was also quite different in style. The lines were very long to go in despite the pouring rain. It was a little confusing inside and I think that we missed seeing everything. Oh well, I guess I will just have to go again. A word of caution. All the floors are marble and the portions that I have here in the photos are exposed to the elements. When it rains, everything is as slick as snail trails. Wear shoes that have good gripping soles.

    Staircase in San Marco San Marco

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    San Marco's Bacilica Museum

    by Rhondaj Written Feb 18, 2007

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    Getting into the church is free. Once you get inside though you may want to visit the Treasury or Museum, both of which have fees. We went into the museum which cost us 3 euros each. I wanted to see the real bronze horses. Not a large museum by any means, but plenty to look at. One of my favorite parts was being able to walk out on the balcony (loggia) where the horses (fake ones) are. A very nice view of St. Mark's Square and Doge's Palace can be seen from here.

    not the real bronze horse of course
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  • AnnS's Profile Photo

    Treasures in San Marco Basilica

    by AnnS Updated Jan 31, 2007

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    The San Marco Basilica is on the 'must see' list of anyone who visits Venice. However, whilst the Basilica itself is very impressive, it's easy to miss its greatest treasures.

    Once inside, turn to the right and you'll come to the entrance to The Treasure. It costs 2 euros to visit and for that, you get an audio guide which explains what you're seeing. There are just two rooms, neither of which is very large, but they house display cases full of the most exquisite treasures from the churches and palaces of Constantinople. Napoleon helped himself to many items and others were destroyed by fire but there are still 283 precious things in the collection, dating from the 1st to the 14th centuries.

    Back out in the Basilica, in front of the main altar, is another thing that's definitely worth paying a further 1.50 euros to see - the Pala d’Oro (golden altarpiece). It's one of the most magnificent things I've ever seen - a wonderfully elaborate Byzantine work of art, dating back to 1102, studded with almost 2,000 precious stones. The longer you gaze at it, the more you see.

    We noticed that many visitors weren't bothering to pay to see either... but they were missing the best things in the Basilica.

    We obviously weren't allowed to take photos but more details are on the following websites: http://www.basilicasanmarco.it/eng/basilica_tesoro/tesorosanmarco_appr.bsm?cat=1&subcat=4 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pala_d'Oro.

    Basilica di San Marco
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    Original Byzantine mosaic

    by SPW Written Jan 17, 2007

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    The mosaic over the left hand front door of San Marco is apparently the only original byzantine mosaic on the exterior. It shows an early version of the church, including the 4 horses on the upper level.

    Byzantine mosaic
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