Learn All About St. Marks Basilica Before Your Visit | History, Architecture, & More
St. Mark’s Basilica, the multi-domed church on Saint Mark’s Square is a top attraction in Venice and one of Italy’s most spectacular cathedrals. Get an insight into a true embodiment of the Venetian aesthetic at the Saint Mark’s Basilica. We are here to help you get an overview, discover the history of the famous Cathedral, and a lot more in this quick guide.
What is St. Mark's Basilica?
St. Mark’s Basilica is an iconic symbol of Venice. Initially designed to function as a private chapel for the Doge, the church over centuries, took up a significant role in the religious and political life of the city.
The Basilica was built to guard Saint Mark 'the evangelist’s' relics, which were stolen in Alexandria, Egypt. Also known as ‘the Golden Church’, St. Mark’s Basilica is famous for the dominance of golden mosaics, quite a sight to witness in the world of art. Discover the priceless treasures kept within the Basilica for the refinement of the mosaics.Visit St. Mark's Basilica
- Official Name: The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark
- Address: Saint Mark's Basilica, P.za San Marco, 328, 30100 Venezia VE, Italy
- Date of Opening: 8 October, 1094
- Timings: Daily from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM
- Architect: Domenico I Contarini
- Architectural Style: Byzantine architecture, Italian Gothic architecture
- Number of Visitors Per Year: The basilica welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
Where is St. Mark's Basilica?
Address: P.za San Marco, 328, 30100 Venezia VE, Italy
St. Mark’s Basilica is situated in the heart of Venice’s main square, Piazza San Marco, otherwise known as Saint Mark’s Square. It is easily accessible by foot and waterways and is one of the most iconic and recognizable regions in the Western World. So, soak in the beauty before you enter through those doors.
St. Mark's Basilica Opening Hours
Monday to Saturday: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Sundays and Holidays: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
*Note: On religious holidays like Christmas and Easter, the basilica might open late or close early.
During March, April, and festive times, the Church is open until 5:00 PM on Sundays.Know More
Why You Should Visit St. Mark's Basilica?
- St. Mark’s Basilica is the center of public and religious life in Venice and is one of the most important temples in the city.
- Visit the basilica to get an insight into the historical aspect since it was the place where the Dukes of Venice were consecrated.
- Witness how the basilica is the fruit of different architectural styles after undergoing restructuring through the years and still being able to preserve its oriental aspects.
- Explore the intriguing combination of architectural and artistic styles.
- Admire its gleaming golden Byzantine mosaics that adorn the church’s main portal.
- It is a testimony to the power of the Serene Republic of Venice and its inhabitants in the Mediterranean as merchants and conquerors.
Why is St. Mark's Basilica So Famous?
- The St. Mark’s Basilica is extremely famous for its location at the St. Mark Square, right next to the Doge’s Palace. It is close to many other significant museums and attractions in Venice.
- The Basilica is known for always being the center of the public and religious life in the city of Venice.
- Admire objects of various kinds and origins that belong to the Basilica.
- The Basilica has about 43,000 sq. feet of mosaic – gold mosaics!
- It is popular for its Holy Masses that take place on the ground floor which gives a chance to admire the mosaics, especially from the first floor.
History of St. Mark's Basilica in a Nutshell
In 828 AD, two merchants left for Alexandria and visited the St. Mark’s sanctuary that held the Saint’s body. On their visit, they spoke to some of the custodians of the sanctuary who told them that there were talks about demolishing the sanctuary. Hearing this, the merchants want to preserve St. Mark’s body and rescue it in Venice. They hid the body under pork and Alexandria being an Islamic state considered pork haram. This made it a smooth entry into the country.
On reaching Venice with the stolen relic, it was temporarily kept in a chapel within the Doge’s Palace for the initial 2 years. It was then restored to its present home by Doge Domenica in 1071.
Who Built St. Mark's Basilica?
Doge Giustiniano Participazio stipulated in his will that his widow and younger brother and successor Giovanni would build a church dedicated to Saint Mark, wherein the relics would be housed.
It was built during the 9th century to house the very sacred relics. Domenico Contarini was the architect involved in building the St. Mark’s Basilica and was the 30th Doge of Venice.
Architecture of St. Mark's Basilica
Constructed back in the 9th century, St. Mark’s Basilica was built to house the remains of Saint. Mark’s corpse that was smuggled in from Egypt by Venetian merchants. The building was initially torched to the ground and eventually rebuilt to become an extraordinary structure that is admired by the world to date.
The structure is currently made of layers of white marble that were bought from the Middle East. The Basilica that is seen today is a cosmopolitan version of the original. The building has various elements from Byzantine architecture that make it remarkably exquisite. The place is famous for having a Greek cross layout and for using an immense amount of gold in each of its attractions and because of this, the structure is often called the Church of Gold.
St. Mark's Basilica | Highlights
This is a fine piece of Byzantine art that has a total of 1927 studded precious gems. The jewels encrusted on the altarpiece display the life of Christ, which took more than 300 years to be fabricated into its current glory.
San Marco Museum
It is an incredible collection of Persian carpets, broken fragments of mosaics, and many other relics. Stroll through and you will get to Sala de Banchetti’s room which showcases royal fabrics and the Doge’s red velvet throne. The most precious treasure out here is the Quadriga, popularly known as the Horses of San Marco.
This space consists of a collection of precious objects looted by the Venetians from Constantinople with a few pieces of art by ancient Venetian craftsmen. This part of the Basilica showcases 823 pieces in gold and silver along with many other precious curios and is the most important part of the place.
The flooring of the Basilica is designed with marble in geometric patterns with over 2099 sq. meters in hues of earth tones with animal and floral designs added. Spot the intricate designs of peacocks, roosters, foxes, and more while you stroll through the Basilica.
Tomb of Saint Mark
The crypt consists of St. Mark’s body and is in the region of the Basilica that is functional for tours beyond the opening hours. This part of the church was built to keep the corpse safe after it was brought from Alexandria. The area is designed with mosaics illuminated by dim lighting that adds to the whole feel.
St. Mark’s Basilica has five large portals that can be accessed from St. Mark’s Square, which is known for being the main square of Venice. Every single one of these portals is truly an architectural masterpiece in itself and are worth visiting.
Frequently Asked Questions About St. Mark's Basilica
A. St. Mark's Basilica is situated in St. Mark’s Square, beside the Doge’s Palace.
A. St. Mark’s Basilica is famous for being a religious temple in the city. It is also home to the relics of Saint Mark himself.
A. St. Mark’s Basilica opened on 8 October 1094.
A. Monday to Saturday: 9:45 AM - 5 PM; Sundays and holidays: 2 PM to 4 PM.
A. Monday to Friday (Porta dei Fiori): 7 AM to 7:30 PM; Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays (Porta dei Fiori): 7 AM to 7:45 PM.