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Learn All About St. Marks Basilica Before Your Visit | History, Architecture, & More

St. Mark's Basilica St. Marks Basilica

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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. Find a complete overview, discover the history of the famous Cathedral, and a lot more in this quick guide.

St. Mark's Basilica | Highlights

about st marks basilica

Real gold mosaics

The basilica features mesmerizing mosaics crafted with REAL gold, glass, and marble tesserae. These vivid artworks narrate biblical tales with vibrant colors and intricate designs, showcasing centuries-old craftsmanship and flair of storytelling. A beautiful reflection of Venetian wealth & religious devotion.

about st marks basilica

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.

about st marks basilica

Treasury

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. It showcases 823 pieces in gold and silver along with many other precious curios and is the most important part of the place.

about st marks basilica

Marble Inlays

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.

about st marks basilica

Tomb of Saint Mark

The Basilica's crypt holds St. Mark’s body and is accessible for tours beyond regular 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.

about st marks basilica

Entrances

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.

Brief history of St. Mark's Basilica

  • 828 AD: Venetian merchants smuggled the remains of Saint Mark from Alexandria, Egypt, to Venice, elevating the saint to the city's patron and marking the beginning of the basilica's legacy.
  • 9th-10th centuries: The original church was constructed to house Saint Mark's relics.
  • 976 AD: A devastating fire destroyed the original basilica, prompting the construction of the present-day St. Mark's Basilica.
  • 1063 AD: The new basilica was consecrated, reflecting a mix of Byzantine and Western European architectural styles.
  • 11th-18th centuries: St. Mark's underwent numerous modifications, including the addition of mosaics, sculptures, and the Pala d'Oro, showcasing its wealth and religious significance.
  • Early 19th century: Napoleon's troops removed the Quadriga horses, but they were later returned to the basilica.
  • 20th century: The basilica survived bombings during World War II and underwent several restorations, preserving its historical and artistic wealth.

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.

Frequently asked questions about St. Mark's Basilica

What is St. Mark's Basilica?

St. Mark’s Basilica is a very important religious temple in the city of Venice that has always been the center of the religious and public life in the city.

What is St. Mark's Basilica famous for?

St. Mark’s Basilica is famous for being a religious temple in the city. It is globally renowned for its stunning Byzantine architecture, magnificent golden mosaics, rich history, religious significance as the city's patron saint's final resting place, and its collection of treasures, including the Pala d'Oro, an exquisite altarpiece adorned with precious gems.

Who built St. Mark's Basilica?

Domenico Contarini designed the St. Mark’s Basilica.

When did St. Mark's Basilica open?

St. Mark’s Basilica opened on 8 October 1094.

What’s inside St. Mark's Basilica?

Within the interiors of St. Mark’s Basilica, there are more than 8000 square meters of gold mosaics and other intricate designs. There is also the sacred tomb of Saint Mark.

Where is St. Mark's Basilica?

St. Mark's Basilica is situated in St. Mark’s Square, beside the Doge’s Palace. The official address is Basilica di San Marco, San Marco, 328, 30124 Venice

How can I get to St. Mark's Basilica?

You can reach St. Mark's Basilica by vaporetto (waterbus), walking, or via other public transportation options in Venice.

Why should I visit St. Mark's Basilica?

St. Mark’s Basilica is an important church in the city of Venice. It is also a beautiful architectural marvel highlighting the cultural, historical, and religious aspects of the city.

How do I book tickets to visit St. Mark's Basilica?

You can book your St. Mark's Basilica tickets online. Get skip-the-line tickets and various tour options that offer priority access and guided experiences. Enjoy convenience, save time, and ensure a seamless visit by booking in advance through authorized platforms.

How much is a ticket to visit St. Mark's Basilica?

Your St. Mark's Basilica skip-the-line tickets start from €8.

What are the St. Mark's Basilica opening hours?

St. Mark's Basilica is open for visits from 9:30 AM to 5:15 PM (last access at 4:45 PM), with specific timings for different sections of the basilica.

What is the best time to visit St. Mark's Basilica?

Early mornings or late afternoons tend to be less crowded, offering a more serene visit. However, it's recommended to check the schedule for quieter times.

Are there guided tours available at St. Mark's Basilica?

Yes, guided tours are available at St. Mark's Basilica. These tours provide visitors with insightful information about the basilica's history, architecture, and artistic treasures.

What are the mass timings at St Mark's Basilica?

The entrance for prayers, Mass, and Services at St. Mark's Basilica is accessible through the 'Porta dei Fiori' (North-side, Piazzetta 'dei leoncini'). The Basilica opens daily at 8 am for prayers and closes at 7:30 pm.

Why is St Mark's Basilica important?

St. Mark's Basilica is an important religious church in the city of Venice. It is situated in the St. Mark Square and is known for being the center of the public and religious life of Venice.

Is it worth visiting St Mark's Basilica?

St. Mark’s Basilica is a magnificent building from the High Middle Ages that is definitely worth a visit when you’re in Venice.