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St Mark's Basilica - Truly Enchanting

A very unusual building, the first time I saw St Mark's Basilica with its characteristic five domes I was reminded more of Istanbul than Italy...

Basilica Venice

The major problem with St Mark's Basilica isn't the Basilica itself but the never-ending lines of people in the piazza waiting to get in. If you can't be bothered with wasting your precious time in Venice, then this is the solution .

History of the Basilica

St Marks Basilica

Its Byzantine characteristics are no doubt a result of the strong influence of the Byzantine Empire on Venice and the influence of the significant Greek community in the city. 

The Basilica gets its name from Venice’s patron saint—Saint Mark. They had a previous one called Saint Theodore (Teodoro) but he was replaced by Saint Mark in 828 and the church was built to house his remains.

Initially, the church was a simple affair that was destroyed in a rebellion in 976. It was then rebuilt and continued to grow in splendor. in many ways, reflecting the increasing wealth of Venice through the centuries. The basilica and indeed the entire piazza was designed to impress and overawe visitors to the city, making them instantly understand the power and wealth of Venice.

By the 15th century, the church was more or less completed in its present form and in the last five centuries or so, they have done little to mess it up, thank goodness.

Open to visitors on most days of the year, the church does not charge an admission fee. There are a few rules to respect however and considering this is still a real church and not just a tourist attraction it is really the least anyone can do to show respect. The rules are as follows:

1) Wear shirts with sleeves and cover legs to the knees.

2) No large bags or suitcases are allowed in.

3) No loud voices.

You get to spend around ten minutes inside before you have to leave.

Tours of the Saint Mark's Basilica

What to see?

St Mark's Basilica at nightSt Mark's Basilica at night by Ricardo Gomez Angel

1) The altar screen is amazing; it really gives you an idea of just how wealthy Venice once was and consists of over 3000 precious stones.

2) Look up! the mosaics on the ceiling are awesome. I have never seen anything quite like them and the sense of heavenly light descending down into the darkness below is incredible.

3) Visit the piazza at night, St. Mark's Basilica  glows with a soft golden light, its intricate details casting captivating shadows and the marble columns and Byzantine mosaics stand out against the dark sky.

Saint Mark's Basilica FAQ 

What makes the Basilica of Saint Mark's significant?

The basilica is renowned for its stunning mosaics, intricate marble facades, and the opulent design of its interior, making it one of the most visited landmarks in Venice.

What relics does the Basilica of Saint Mark's house?

The basilica houses the remains of St. Mark the Evangelist, which were brought to Venice from Alexandria in the 9th century.

Are there any special events or ceremonies held at the Basilica of Saint Marks?

The basilica hosts religious ceremonies and special events throughout the year, including Masses, processions, and concerts, attracting both worshippers and tourists.

What architectural style is the Basilica?

St. Mark's Basilica showcases a unique blend of Byzantine, Romanesque, and Gothic architectural styles, reflecting Venice's rich cultural heritage.

When was the Basilica built?

The basilica's construction began in the 9th century and underwent several renovations and additions over the centuries, with the current form largely dating from the 11th century.

Can families with young children visit?

Yes, families are welcome to visit the basilica. However, parents should be mindful of the quiet atmosphere inside and ensure that children are well-behaved during their visit. Use a baby carrier instead of a stroller.

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