Basilica di San Marco, Venice

4.5 out of 5 stars 244 Reviews

Piazza San Marco - SAN MARCO 39-041-5225205

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  • Tijavi's Profile Photo

    Basilica di San Marco

    by Tijavi Updated Nov 18, 2008

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    San Marco owes its uniqueness to the blend of architectural and decorative styles reflected in the building itself and its interiors. For instance, the facade is seemingly a jumble of oriental and romanesque architectural styles - but the effect is fascinating.

    I specifically liked the mosaics that adorned the facade and the central dome (the Ascension Dome) inside created by 13th century Venetian craftsmen. The image of St Mark and the angels with the giant cross on the backdrop present great photo opportunities (see main photo).

    Visitors to the cathedral are requested to dress appropriately, and bags are not allowed inside. There is a free one-hour storage just off Piazzetta San dei Leoni (to the right of the cathedral). While entrance to the cathedral is free, it is worth visiting the museum (entrance fee of 3 euros) which contains St Mark's original gilded bronze horses (the ones on the facade are replicas) as well mosaics, medieval manuscripts and antique tapestries. From the museum balcony, one could also view the hordes of tourists milling around Piazza San Marco.

    Statue of St Mark with angels Piazza San Marco's biggest attraction Mosaic showing body of St Mark being Mosaic showing Christ's resurrection Two of the domes from the Campanile

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  • Cristian_Uluru's Profile Photo

    Basilica di San Marco

    by Cristian_Uluru Updated May 23, 2006

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    The wonderful Basilica di San Marco is the most famous church of Venice. The church is connected to the Doge's Palace and has been the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice since 1807.
    The church was built originally in the Doge's Palace in 828 when Venetian merchants acquired the supposed relics of Saint Mark the Evangelist from Alexandria and so they decided to build a new church in the present site in 832.
    The church is based on a Greek cross floorplan and it is one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture in Italy and in the world.

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

    by Cristian_Uluru Updated May 25, 2006

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    The wonderful interior of the Basilica of San Marco has got three longitudinal and three transverse naves. The altarpiece is called Pala d'Oro, a wonderful example Byzantine metal-work made in 1105. Above the choir stalls are three reliefs by Sansovino.
    On the inside walls you can see fantastic mosaics, in a mixture of Byzantine and Gothic styles, while the floor is a 12th century mixture of mosaic and marble in geometric patterns and animal designs. The mosaic contains gold, bronze, and the greatest variety of stones.
    The basilica was consecrated in 1094, the same year as in which the body of Saint Mark was supposedly rediscovered in a pillar by Vitale Falier, doge at the time. The crypt then housed the relics until 1811.

    Basilica di San Marco Basilica di San Marco Basilica di San Marco Basilica di San Marco Basilica di San Marco
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  • Henrik_rrb's Profile Photo

    The third thing you must see in Venice...

    by Henrik_rrb Written May 9, 2004

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    ... is the Basicila, the huge church at Piazza San Marco.
    Although I have to admit I might have done a mistake who didn't went inside...

    But a look at the line, with a waiting-time for something like 40-50 minutes (exclusive the time it would have taken to leave my bag at another place at the piazza, since you aren't allowed to bring anything with you inside...), and the great sunny weather I had during the time, I decided to just stay outside instead.

    Anyway, the church is great built, although not as the Duomo in Milan or Florenz, and neither like the Petrus Church in Rome.

    But I had would liked to get inside, and outside, on the terraces. Sure looked nice up there!

    Well, let's hope it will be a next time. And that I that time also now which building that is the Dogdes castle, so that I won't just go past it...

    Sometimes I think I would earn something if I studied some maps before I actually went to the town...

    The basilica at Piazza San Marco

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  • junecorlett's Profile Photo

    Basilica

    by junecorlett Written Jan 27, 2009

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    St Mark's Basilica
    This magnificent structure dates from the 11th century and was built to hold the relics of St Mark the Evangelist, the city's patron saint. The facade is richly decorated by copies of the four famous gilded bronze horses, while the interior museum contains mosaics and prescious art works, as well as original bronze horses. It is open from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm, Monday through Saturday and 1.00pm to 4.00pm on Sundays (Admission Free)

    Basilica
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    Don't Miss the Special Sites in the Basilica

    by Hopkid Updated Mar 24, 2005

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    Entrance to the Basilica di San Marco is free. You can walk in and gawk at the wall-to-wall frescoes and the amazing tile work in the floor. You can go in and walk around and back out before you realize that you missed a bunch of stuff mentioned in the guide book. Some of these sites, such as the Pala d'Oro (amazing gold/jewel-encrusted altarpiece), Tesoro (Treasury), and the Loggia dei Cavalli, require an admission fee and their entrances are somewhat tucked away. The latter is up a set of stairs and will gain you access to an exterior balcony view of the Piazza to the west and Piazzetta to the south. You can also see the original bronze horses and great interior views of the Basilica.

    Definitely seek these sites out...they're all worth the extra admission fees.

    The original gilded bronze horses

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  • cheapskate's Profile Photo

    Basilica di San Marco

    by cheapskate Written Feb 19, 2006

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    If you're going to Piazza San Marco, how can you not visit the Basilica of Saint Mark. Oh yah.. you should know by now that Venice is sinking and this has taken a toll on the church.. you'd probably notice that the ground isn't even.

    Well... each city in Italy had their patron saint.. Venice had no except.. and so the Venetian patron saint is Saint Mark. His body was actually stolen from Santa Sophia, his egyptian burial place. He was reburied several times.. but finally his body is resting in the high alter.

    Here's the thing about the basilica... You MUST visit it. To go into the main hall is FREE.. bravo..
    BUT.. there's a small catch.. there are many so areas that you would have to pay to get into.. I think there were 2 or 3 parts, one such was the Pala d'Oro which houses some jewels and other bling.. and costs about 1.50euros to go in. I didn't go into any though.

    What i did do was to go up the second level of the basilica.. get closer to the mosaic frescoes of the church. It's all gold.. and it's quite a sight to behold although the 2nd level isn't that high up.. but you get a more complete overview of the church...
    Of course.. you get to see the original 4 bronze horses... hahaha.. and you get to climb out to the balcony of the church and take even more pictures.. and get a more aerial view of Piazza San Marco.

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  • Cristian_Uluru's Profile Photo

    Basilica di San Marco: Decoration

    by Cristian_Uluru Updated May 25, 2006

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    The Basilica of San Marco was altered in the century with many contributed to its adornment, and seldom did a Venetian vessel return from the Orient without bringing a column, capitals, or friezes, taken from some ancient building, to add to the fabric of the basilica. So gradually, the exterior brickwork became covered with various marbles and carvings.
    On the facade of the Basilica you can see one of the most important symbol of Venice: The Horses of Saint Mark which were installed on the basilica in 1254. Archeologists think they are the once adorned the Arch of Trajan. The horses were long displayed at the Hippodrome of Constantinople, and in 1204 Doge Enrico Dandolo sent them back to Venice as part of the loot sacked from Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade. They were taken by Napoleon in 1797 but restored in 1815 and remained in place until the 1990s and now sit in an exhibition room, the horses now on the facade of the cathedral being no more than fibreglass replicas.

    The Facade The Facade with the horses The Facade The Facade The Facade
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  • Mikebb's Profile Photo

    St Mark's, Worth The Visit to Venice

    by Mikebb Updated May 9, 2006

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    The Basilica is the outstanding building in Venice , it is hard to believe it is real.It was originally built around the year 830, however it has since been rebuilt several times , the most recent in 1060. The building reflects the splendor and history of Venice with its spangled spires,Byzantine domes and seething facade of mosaics and marble. It was built to house the body of St Mark.
    When the tide rises the seawater flows onto the Piazza in front of the Basilica and elevated boards are erected so people can gain entry.

    Basilica di San Marco & Piazza Basilica San Marco from Entrance to Grand Canal Decoration Above Entrance, San Marco
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  • JetlagCity's Profile Photo

    Basilica di San Marco

    by JetlagCity Updated Jan 12, 2005

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    The Basilica is the most outstanding example of Middle Eastern influence on Venetian architecture. Onion dome after onion dome! This used to be the Doge's private church, and it houses many treasures looted from Constantinople and elsewhere. The inside walls are lavishly covered with golden Byzantine mosaics and marble - even the terrazo floor is mosaic. And don't miss the Pala D'Oro, a golden altar piece impressively engraved with Byzantine enamels. The whole place is really over the top!!! Quite the resting place for St. Mark - according to the story, the Venetians stole his body from Alexandria and brought it here!

    I had a reprint made of this picture in sepia and decided I actually prefer it this way : )

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  • clairegeordio's Profile Photo

    St Mark's Basilica

    by clairegeordio Updated Jul 26, 2004

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    The new Basilica was modelled on Constantinople's Church of the Twelve Apostles. It was actually built as the doge's private chapel until it became Venice's cathedral in 1807.
    There are some beautiful mosaics inside and outside the Basilica, they glitter with gold for a truly breathtaking experience inside the Basilica. Don't let the queue put you off (it goes down quickly) as it is a worthwhile experience. Be sure to go up the stairs to the right of the entrance which lead to the museum, a balcony overlooking the interior of the basilica and a balcony outside with breathtaking views of St Mark's square and looking out towards the lagoon.

    St Marks Basilica

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  • MM212's Profile Photo

    Basilica di San Marco

    by MM212 Updated Nov 13, 2009

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    Venice's most magnificent edifice, la Basilica di San Marco is a fairy-tale like monument. Its unique architectural style, exhibiting undeniable Eastern influences, is a testament to the strong relationship between Venice and both the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire and the Near East alike. The cathedral church of Venice traces its roots to the 9th century when an earlier small chapel was built to house the relics of San Marco (Saint Mark). According to legend, Venetian merchants had "rescued" (i.e., stole) his relics from Saint Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, Egypt in 828 AD, and wrapped them in pork to evade Moslem guards (the smuggling is recorded in a mosaic on the façade - see the travelogue for a photo). When his relics arrived in Venice, Saint Mark replaced Saint Theodore as the patron saint of the city and the Basilica was born. Construction of the existing structure commenced in the 11th century, but it took centuries of enrichments and expansions, tapping into the wealth of the Republic, to bring it to its current flamboyant form. Through trade, Crusader invasions and other contacts with the eastern Mediterranean, Venetian ships brought back both architectural ideas and ancient materials and treasures to embellish the Basilica. The treasures, often older than Venice itself were incorporated into the edifice. The result was this fantastic Basilica, with onion domes and mosaic decorations, reminiscent of Eastern/Byzantine churches, mixed with Venetian Gothic details, an architectural jewel unlike any cathedral in the Christian world. For more photos, please check out the travelogue Basilica di San Marco.

    Basilica di San Marco (Nov 05) The Basilica by Night (Nov 05) San Marco Facade Domes & Crosses of San Marco (Nov 05) San Marco in April 2009
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  • rexvaughan's Profile Photo

    A multitude of mosaics

    by rexvaughan Written Feb 3, 2005

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    So many things fascinate visitors and grab their attention at St. Mark's but one can hardly miss the thousands of square meters of mosaics that grace both the exterior and the interior. Just on the front facade there are 9 huge mosaics: one over each of the five portals and one on each of the four spires. There are also so many inside that you can't take them all in - on walls, vaults and domes.

    Of course you know that the supposed remains of St. Mark are entombed here and it is still a serious pilgrammage site. Four of the exterior mosaics recount the story of the theft of St. Mark's remains from Alexandria and their disposition here; four recount the crucifixion, descent, resurrection and ascension of Christ. The central one depicts the last judgement.

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    Lining up to visit the Basilica San Marco.

    by breughel Updated Jul 19, 2010

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    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.

    Lining up to visit the Basilica S. Marco.
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  • JetlagCity's Profile Photo

    Basilica Marble

    by JetlagCity Updated Sep 30, 2004

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    Don't be so stunned by the mosaics that you overlook the colorful veined marble all around the Basilica di San Marco. The lower part of the interior walls is covered with beautiful marble slabs, and there are lots of decorative columns. The Doges imported marble from all over the Mediterranean as a sign of their wealth, and also used the regional red marble from Verona and white stone from Istria (Croatia).

    marble columns
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