Basilica di San Marco, Venice

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Piazza San Marco - SAN MARCO

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    Cupolas of San Marco.

    by breughel Written Aug 6, 2010

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    Cupolas of San Marco - View from the Cortillo.
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    As it was impossible to get inside because of the long lines in this month of July I had a good look at the cupolas as seen from the Palazzo Ducale. There are indeed good views especially from the second floor of the eastern wing as well as from the inner courtyard "Cortillo".

    The Greek cross plan of the Basilica is topped by five cupolas which are a symbol of God's presence. Each cupola rests on four great vaults whose weight is borne by four pillars. The central cupola is that of the Ascension, the others are the Pentecost over the nave, the Prophets over the presbytery (under restoration), the St. John over the north arm (not visible on my photo) and the St. Leonard over the south arm.

    Beneath the cupolas, on the north side of the courtyard of the Doge's Palace, stands that most remarkable arch called "Androne Foscari" commissioned by this Doge. I it is a triumphal archway linked to the Porta della Carta by which visitors presently leave the Palace. The small marble facade with clock is beautiful. It is difficult to distinguish what belongs to the Basilica and what belongs to the Palazzo Ducale.
    It's certainly one of my favoured spots at San Marco.

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  • Zvrlj's Profile Photo

    Horses of San Marco (I&V)

    by Zvrlj Updated Sep 10, 2009

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    Horses of San Marco, replicas
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    Horses of San Marco, odd decoration of the portal of Basilica di San Marco, are probably the oldest part of the basilica itself. Those Roman or Greek bronze statues, originally part of a monument depicting a quadriga, date from 4th or 3rd century BC and they have been attributed to the Greek sculptor Lysippos.

    Most of the time of their existence horses were displayed at the Hippodrome of Constantinople. In 1204 Doge Enrico Dandolo sent them to Venice as part of the loot sacked from Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade, and 50 years later, in 1254 they were installed on the terrace of the facade of the basilica. They were brought to Paris by Napoleon in 1797 where they were used in the design of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, but returned to Venice in 1815. Statues were hidden away for the duration of both world wars. Nevertheless they suffered damage from weathering over the centuries.

    After a long restoration, since the 1990s they have been displayed in San Marco Museum, inside the basilica. The horses now on the facade are bronze replicas.

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    Trying to visit the Basilica San Marco.

    by breughel Updated Jul 19, 2010

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    The line at Basilica San Marco

    If you expect to visit the Basilica inside be patient, the queues are very long.
    My photo shows the line at 10 h in July. Temperature was 33°C "a l'umbra" and more than 40°C in the sun. We came back around 16 h - the Basilica closes at 17 h - and the line was still long.

    Fortunately we have visited the Basilica twenty years ago so that we took the vaporetto to the other side of the Grand Canal and visited in all quietness the most beautiful Santa Maria della Salute.

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    Basilica di San Marco - Chiesa d'Oro

    by jlee008 Updated Nov 24, 2004

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    Basilica di San Marco

    Piazza San Marco of course wouldn't be the Piazza San Marco without the Basilica di San Marco. Aptly known also as the Chiesa d'Oro (Church of Gold), it is one of the most richly embellished churches in the world. The basilica is topped with an enormous cupola that is surrounded by several other smaller ones. As with many of the other churches in Italy, the fascade of the church is decorated with marble. In addition to the marble, there are beautiful mosaics depicting scenes from the life of Christ and St. Mark.

    According to legend, St. Mark's body was smuggled out of Alexandria in A.D. 828 into Venice (hence, the name of St. Marks...Theodore, the Greek saint was patron saint of Venice up until this point).

    When inside the Basilica di San Marco, you must set your eyes onto the Pala d'Oro, a golden altar screen set with 300 emeralds, 300 sapphires, 400 garnets, 100 amethysts, and 1,300 pearls.

    Be aware that churches in Italy strictly enforce a modest dress code. No shorts, no bare shoulders or arms, and no skirts above the knees are permitted in the Basilica. Additionally, no pictures are permitted and silence must be observed.

    HOURS:
    Basilica and Presbytery
    Apr-Sept Mon-Sat 9:30am-5:30pm, Sun 2-5:30pm
    Oct-Mar Mon-Sat 10am-4:30pm, Sun 2-4:30pm.

    Treasury Mon-Sat 9:30am-5pm; Sun 2-5pm.

    Marciano Museum Apr-Sept Mon-Sat 10am-5:30pm, Sun 2-4:30pm
    Oct-Mar Mon-Sat 10am-4:30pm, Sun 2-4:30pm

    ADMISSION:
    Basilica free
    Treasury 2€
    Presbytery 1.50€
    Marciano Museum 1.50€

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  • suvanki's Profile Photo

    St Marks Basillica

    by suvanki Updated Nov 12, 2011

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    San Marco Basilica interior - Gold cupolas
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    VAPORETTA SAN MARCO VALLARESSO OR SAN ZACCARIA
    Saint Marks Basilica sits proudly at the head of the Piazza, watching over the thousands of bodies milling through the square, both human and pigeons!

    Originally a wooden chapel, put together in a hurry in 828, as a place to protect St Marks relics, which had been stolen from Alexandria. It later burned down during the insurrection of 976. Quickly, it was rebuilt, but again was demolished in 1063 on the orders of Doge Domenico Contarini, who considered that a restyle was needed to befit its superior position. He challenged the building of the most beautiful chapel ever seen. Merchants were ordered to return with some embellishment from their travels, and each doge was responsible for donating large sums of money.

    So, the monument seen today is mainly the result of the reconstruction carried out between 1063-1094.

    The opulent marble clad Basilica understandably draws crowds from around the world to queue for the chance to have visited one of the worlds 'Must See's' and tick it off their list.

    My first visit to Venice as a day trip from Lake Como included a hurried visit - I have a vague memory of the gold altar and nothing more.

    On subsequent visits I had no desire to join the long queues to gain entrance, and less so to view while being jostled by the crowds.
    I was quite happy, especially on crisp December days to view the mosaiced frescoes and other features from the Piazza.

    However, Christmas Eve 2008, I entered San Marco at around 2300hours, after queueing for a short while and managed to squeeze into a space at the back, to witness Midnight Mass. I'm not particularly religious, but wanted to experience San Marco as a place of worship and celebration, rather than as 'a museum'
    I had been quite shocked the previous year, to witness some queueing for midnight mass, sporting Father Christmas hats and reindeer antlers - I think I'd have been less offended if they were sporting hot pants and skimpy vest tops!
    This time the fancy dress wasn't in evidence, but people were photographing with flashes during the service. I'm afraid that I took a couple of shots (without flash).

    From my vantage point, I was transfixed by the Byzantine style golden domed cupolas above with their mosaics, and was stunned at just after midnight when the lights were switched on, showing the Basilica in its full glory. As the bells chimed out, it was 'quite a moment'.

    The following year, I found myself here again. This time I stayed for the full service. When it ended there was a chance to walk around and take photos. This time, it was the mosaic flooring that had me mesmorised, with the various intricate patterns.

    I only saw a tiny amount of its treasures, but one day, I'll hopefully return to look in depth -Just as long as I don't have to queue or share the experience with hoards of people!

    Opening Hours (Tourists)
    Monday - Saturday 09.30 - 17.30 Sunday 14.00 - 16.00 (Loggia dei Cavalli is open Sunday morning.

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  • Jefie's Profile Photo

    Venice's beautiful Byzantine church

    by Jefie Updated Aug 27, 2010

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    Detail of the facade of St. Mark's Basilica
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    St. Mark's Basilica, or Basilica di San Marco, is Venice's most famous church. It dates back to the 9th century, when a smaller chapel was built next to the Palazzo Ducale to house the holy relics of St. Mark; at that time, the basilica served as the doges' private place of worship, a tradition that would last until the beginning of the 19th century. The current church was built for the most part during the 11th century, although additions were made until well into the 13th century. The basilica is one of the world's nicest examples of Byzantine architecture, mostly thanks to the numerous golden mosaics that can be found both on its remarkable facade and inside the church.

    Entrance to St. Mark's Basilica is free, and there's a little trick if you don't want to wait in line: drop off your backpack (you can't bring it inside anyways), purse or coat at the Ateneo San Basso, which is located on a small street next to the Piazzetta dei Leoncini (on the north side of the basilica, you'll see the sign). They will hold it for you free of charge for one hour and give you a special pass that allows you to skip the entire line! I thought 1h was sufficient to visit the basilica, especially since it can get pretty crowded and you're sort of forced to move along. It's also possible to visit St. Mark's museum (4 Euros), the treasury (3 Euros), and the high altar with its "Pala d'Oro" (2 Euros). We chose to visit St. Mark's museum, mostly because it's located on the upper level of the basilica so you get a really nice view of the richly decorated nave. The museum includes an interesting collection of religious art pieces, including the original group of bronze sculptures known as "St. Mark's Horses" that probably date back to the 4th century BC. The museum also gives access to a small outside terrace where you can enjoy great views of Piazza San Marco. Of course, no visit to the basilica would be complete without taking the time to admire its exterior - among other things, don't miss the Tetrachs sculptures that were brought back from Constantinople at the time of the Fourth Cruisade.

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    Bronze Horses of San Marco

    by JetlagCity Updated Jan 24, 2005

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    horse & bell tower

    If you go upstairs onto the large outside balcony you'll find four stylized bronze horses presiding over the Piazza San Marco. It's a grand spot to hang out for awhile, with views of the Piazza, the Piazzetta, and the Venetian Lagoon. These horses outside are replicas.

    The originals were taken from the Hippodrome in Constantinople during the Crusades, and are inside now to protect them from pollution. They're just inside the door from the balcony, in the museum part of the basilica. Here you'll also find some original mosaic pieces from the basilica. It was great to be able to see some mosaics up close, in addition to all of those way up high on the ceiling.

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    BASILICA DI SAN MARCO

    by STEFZAMM Updated Sep 23, 2004

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    Basilica Di San Marco - Grand Church

    Located in Piazza San Marco, The Basilica of San Marco is one of the main attractions in Venice. Here is some information about this Basilica which have inspired me and the thousands of visitors that visit each day. . . This Basilica has a fascinating blend of different building phases & influences.
    The first church was built to keep the remains of St. Mark, stolen from Alexandria brought by two seafarers to Venice. The only remaining of the 1st & the 2nd buildings are a few fragments found in the crypt under the cross.
    The 3rd building, that found today was built by Doge Domenico Contarini and dates from 1063. Contarini was very influenced by the Romanesque architecture of Northern Italy and so wanted this 3rd building to convey this style.
    The Ground Plan of this Basilica consists of a Greek Cross having two side aisles, a main dome over the crossing, 4 huge domes situated on each arm of the cross with colonades linking the grand pilars that holds the dome.
    In 1204 there were alterations to the Contarini building such as raising of the domes, adding a Northern porch and a portico on the western facade. Ruins of the crusades were used as decoration and marble mosaics manifested the vaults and later between the 14th and the 16th century the exterior was decorated in Gothic style together with sculptures & tabernacles.
    The artistically decorated facade has five doorways with the middle main one holding replicas of St. Mark's four famous bronze hourses and ascending angels lifting one's vision to the highest towering statue of St. Mark.
    The Basilica of St. Mark was consecrated in 1094 and was then recognized as an offical state church. The consecration was held in the presence of Emperor Henry IV.
    The Interior of the Basilica boasts of rich mosaics, so rich that are unlikely to find in other western churches.

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    Loggia dei Cavalli - Horses of Saint Mark

    by csordila Updated Apr 24, 2009

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    The four horses
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    Front facade of the Basilica, showing the four gilded, almost pure copper (not bronze!) horses of the quadriga, the triumphal chariot, located on the porch over the main entrance . No one is sure where these horses came from and whether they are Greek (Lysippos?) or Roman. They could date from the 3rd century BC up to the 2nd AD.
    The emperor Constantine acquired them by conquering Rome and they graced the hippodrome of Constantinople, what the Romans called Circus.
    The horses, together with a lot of treasures incl. the precious-metal iconostasis from Hagia Sophia were looted by the Venetians during the Fourth Crusade, organized by Enrico Dandolo and moved to Venice in the 1200s.
    Originally were located at the Arsenale, but someone, probably a later Doge, had the bright idea of putting them on the terrace of the Basilica.
    The present day horses are copies. The orginals were restored and placed inside the Basilica, in a display area right behind the copies in 1977.

    Entrance fee upstairs to the terrace incl. museum 4 €.
    Open 9.45 am - 4.45 pm.

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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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  • Fam.Rauca's Profile Photo

    Basilica di San Marco

    by Fam.Rauca Updated Feb 14, 2006

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    The Markus church
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    The Markus church is dim and overcrowded.
    Venice's clerical centre belongs to the most beautiful medieval constructions of the world.
    With the Basilica di San Marco, Venice afforded a really eccentric church.
    The church was erected for the sacred Markus' relic, the protection patron of the city.
    The first Markus church was a quickly erected wood construction (829-836).
    The church rose in Fleming in the year 976.
    The second den, a three-ship-y Romance basilica became end of the 10.Century ready put and some decades later, from vanity and validity need torn off.
    The third basilica was built between 1063 and 1094.
    1204 began a late rebuilding of the church.
    The Dogen heard the Basilica as house church.

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    Church of Gold

    by jag17 Written Sep 30, 2004

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    St. Mark's Basilica

    I walked into the square from the vaporetto stop. My friend and I were speechless as we rounded the corner into the piazza. St Mark's is absolutely breathtaking. Even after seeing dozens and dozens of pictures of it, are you prepared for the size and beauty. It is definitely worth the wait in line to go inside. Be sure and go into the presbytery to see the golden altar screen. It is set with 300 emeralds, 300 sapphires, 400 garnets, 100 amethysts, and 1300 pearls.

    Be aware of the dress code: no shorts, bare arms, or shoulders.

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  • mary2u99's Profile Photo

    Basilica di San Marco

    by mary2u99 Written Mar 23, 2006

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    Basilica di San Marco
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    Basilica di San Marco (Saint Mark's Basilica) originally form in 829 (consecrated in 832) is to house and honour the remains of St. Mark. The Basilica is build beside the Palazzo Ducale, or Doges' Palace. The mosaics are of Veneto-Byzantine origin. The Bell Tower adjacent to the basilica was once a lighthouse for ships.

    Basilica di San Marco is one of the most spectacular houses of worship in the world.
    Dress code: knees, shoulders and upper arms are covered. No photography inside though! Seeing it for yourself is good enough to enjoy the beauty of it.

    Opening time:
    From October to April, from Monday to Saturday: 9.45am-4.30pm
    From May to September 9.45am to 4pm
    Sunday and Holidays: 2pm-4pm
    Golden Altar and Saint Mark's Treasure: from October to April 9.45am-4.30pm; from May to September 9.45-5.30pm

    Admission: Golden Altar: Euro1,50, reduced Euro 1.
    Admission Treasure: Euro2, reduced Euro 1.

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  • Profsmiley's Profile Photo

    Basilica di San Marco

    by Profsmiley Updated Nov 21, 2004

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    St. Mark's Winged Lion

    This wonderful church was built in 829 to contain the remains of Saint Mark, the city’s patron saint. It has been renovated and decorated several time over the centuries.

    The Basilica is most certainly the most spectacular church in the city. Its main façade is unique. It has five arched doorways, a long terrace that are home to four bronze horses that came from the booty from the 4th crusade of the infidels The golden winged lion, which is at the top center, is the symbol of Venice.

    The interior is as impressive as the outside.

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    Basilica San Marco

    by zadunajska8 Written Feb 9, 2012

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    Basilica San Marco
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    St Mark's Basilica is one of the best known sights in Venice and this is probably at least partly deserved. The outside of the basilica is however more impressive than the inside. It's difficult to remain unimpressed by what may be one of the world's most impressive and beautiful medieval buildings.

    Construction of the basilica began in 832 to house the body of St Mark which had been pinched from Alexandria by the Venetians, although the current basilica is actually teh 3rd one on the site and was started in 1094. For nearly the next 1000 years it served as the private chapel of the Doge as head of state of the Venetian Republic. It only became the seat of the patriarch and Venice's cathedral when Napolean seized control in the early 19th century.

    The beautiful mosaics and romanesque carvings should be admired for some time before taking the plunge and going inside. Also before you go inside you have to leave any bags in a cloakroom which is in a street just of the square. Look for the signs to find it. You can leave your bag here for 1 hour free of charge.

    When you go inside you see that the basilica has some very attarctive mosaics, but in my opinion not as good as those outside. There is something that makes the place look much more like an Orthodox church than a normal catholic one, and when you see the treasury and realise that almost everything (including the marble of the beautiful outside) was stolen from Byzantium/Constantinople/Istanbul.

    The treasury and pala d'Oro had a very minimal entry charge of (I think) €3 but entry to the rest of the Basilica is free and this is fairly unique amongst Venice's expensive attractions.

    Photography is not allowed inside, but you can get some excellent pictures of the exterior.

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