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St Mark's Basilica

There are numerous churches in the city of Venice; out of which one of the most popular is the St Mark's Basilica, also known as Basilica di San Marco. The most striking feature of structure is its Byzantine architecture, which is one of the reasons for gaining world significance. The glinting basilica, situated just opposite to the Grand Canal, dominates the St. Mark's Square, popularly known as Piazza San Marco and also connects the Doge's Palace. San Marco is a very popular church, which has been the Archbishop's seat in Venice since the 19th century.


St. Mark's Basilica attractions:


The Greek Cross design on the floor is one of the major attractions of St. Mark’s Basilica. The church is sculpted after the Hagia Sophia of Istanbul and the Church of the Holy Apostles established by the Constantine. The cathedral has a floor area of approximately 8000 sq. meters and its strikingly beautiful mosaics are sure to hold your attention.


The ancient 12th century mosaics that adorn the interiors of the basilica relate the New Testament events. The mosaics of the 13th century portray the Old Testament stories, particularly the scenes from the books of Exodus and Genesis, offering a theme to the St. Mark’s Basilica interiors.


Along with the main floor design there are some interwoven motifs that depict the martyrdoms of St. clement and St. Peter, the tale of the Virgin, and important happenings in the lives of St. Isadore, St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. Last but most significant of all are the events with the legends of St. Mark.


The intricate patterns on the floor are an ancient mixture of 12th century marbles and mosaics arranged in animal designs and geometric shapes. A crimson colored medal on the porch floor marks the place where Doge Sebastiano Ziani orchestrated the reconciliation between Pope Alexander III, the Holy Roman Emperror and the Barbarossa, back in the year 1177.


There is a baldaccino above the higher altar adorned with reliefs from the 11th century. The altarpiece of the basilica is the renowned Golden Pall, also known as Pala d'Oro, which is a golden panel embedded with precious gems. The Golden Pall is famed to be the work of 9th century Byzantine goldsmiths and has been further enhanced over the centuries. Napolean is said to have plundered some of the gems during the conquest of Venice in 1797.


Fra Sebastiano Schiavone has inlayed the choir stalls. Above the choir, stalls are reliefs made by Sansovino. Bronze statues of the Evangelists sculpted by Sansovino also adorn the choir stalls. Statuettes by the Massegne brothers further grace the marble pulpits.


The Horses of Saint Mark is one of the most renowned artifacts in the Basilica and date back to classical antiquity. The Horses were originally showcased at the Hippodrome of Constantinople, and was brought to Venice in 1204 by Doge Enrico Dandalo following the sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. They were plundered again by Napoleon, but were restored in 1815 and have remained in the Basilica ever since. The original horses are now on display at the Basilica's museum and replicas have been installed in the facade.


To the far right of the main altar is the Tesoro, or Tresuary. It has a magnificent collection of artifacts, formed by the plunder of the Crusades as well as relics collected by the church for centuries.


St. Mark's Basilica facts:


Names: St. Mark's Basilica, also known as Basilica di San Marco
Location: Venice, Veneto, Italy
Dedication: St. Mark
Religion: Christianity
Denomination: Catholic
Category: Church; also listed as a World Heritage Sites
Architecture style: Byzantine
Year of establishment: 1094
Status: active
Features: Relics; Byzantine Mosaics
Photo gallery: St. Mark's Basilica Photo Gallery


Visitor Information:


Address: Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy
Operation hours:

Basilica, Pala d'Oro, Tesoro: 9:45am-5pm (Monday-Saturday)

2:00 pm-5:00 pm (Sunday)

Museo Marciano: 9:45 am-5:00 pm (Monday-Sunday)

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