st marks basilica tours

St. Mark's Basilica Tours | Discover the Crown Jewel of Venice With an Expert Guide

Built in the 9th century, St. Mark’s Basilica houses the last remains of St. Mark that were smuggled into Venice from Egypt by Venetian merchants. The original structure was burnt to the ground in 932 AD and then rebuilt into the Byzantine-style Basilica that we see today. The Basilica is designed in the shape of a Greek cross and is famously called the Church of Gold because of the use of a huge amount of gold for its construction. Marble inlays on the floor featuring animal designs put together in a geometric pattern along with gilded mosaics and embellishments on its walls and ceilings make up the interiors of St. Mark’s Basilica. It is quite an exquisite and magnificent structure one must visit on their trip to Venice.

Explore the rich history and gasp at the true beauty of St. Mark’s Basilica, the largest church in Venice, with an expert tour guide. Read on to know more about how you can make the most of your visit to the Basilica through a St. Mark’s Basilica tour.

Why Take a St. Mark's Basilica Tour?

St. Mark’s Basilica is one of the most popular and most visited landmarks in Venice. Here are a few reasons why you should take a St. Mark’s Basilica tour.

St. Mark's Basilica tours
All Your St. Mark's Basilica Tour Options

St. Mark's Basilica Guided Tour

Free Cancellation
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Mobile Ticket
1 hr.
Audio Guide
Guided Tour
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Skip The Line: St. Marks Basilica with Walking Tour of Venice

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2 hr. 30 min.
Guided Tour
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Venice Icons Tour: Doge’s Palace & St. Mark’s Basilica with Skip-the-Line

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Mobile Ticket
2 hr. 30 min. - 3 hr.
Guided Tour
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Venice In A Day with Doge Palace and St. Marks Basilica Guided Tour

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Mobile Ticket
3 hr. 30 min.
Guided Tour
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Guided Tour Of St. Mark's Basilica with Gondola Ride

Free Cancellation
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Mobile Ticket
2 hr.
Guided Tour
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Highlights Covered on Your St. Mark's Basilica Tour

st. mark's basilica tours

Dome

St. Mark’s Basilica has five gigantic domes or cupolas adorned with golden mosaics. The domes are built right at the intersection point over the arms of the Basilica. They depict different scenes like The Creation in the Narthex, The Ascension in the centre of the dome, The Pentecost on the western side, The Life of Saint Leonard, Saint Nicholas, Clement and Blaise in the south, and The Life of Saint John in the north of the dome. Head to any of the galleries near St. Mark’s Museum for the best views.

st. mark's basilica tours

Pala d'Oro

The Pala d’Oro is an exquisite altarpiece made of Byzantine enamel and adorned with thousands of pearls, jewels, and precious stones of different sizes on either side. Commissioned by the Venetians, the Pala d’Oro is recognized as one of the most precious, sophisticated, refined, and accomplished works across the world. Derived from the Latin word ‘palla’, which means cloth, Pala is usually used to cover the altar during church service after which they are replaced with gold or silver. The one at St. Mark’s Basilica is most famous and was ordered by Doge Ordelaffo Faliero from Constantinople in 1102. The Pala d’Oro was completed in 1105.

st. mark's basilica tours

Treasury

St. Mark’s Basilica’s Treasury houses one of the most amazing collections of Byzantine portable objects made of gold, silver, glass, enamel, metals, hardstone carvings, and other precious metals procured from several sources. Most of these were brought to Venice from Constantinople between 1204 and 1261. The 283 objects in the Treasury include liturgical chalices, patens, bowls of Islamic origin, lamps, antique vases made of glass and semi-precious stones, amphorae, and western objects like Venetian filigree and perfume-brazier. The Treasury also includes gifts from the different popes, European princes, and doges.

st. mark's basilica tours

Museo di San Marco

Also known as St. Mark’s Museum, Museo di San Marco was built in the 19th century and is home to several kinds of objects and artefacts that are of historical importance and hold significance for the Basilica. The collection includes a quadriga of St. Mark, an altarpiece by Paolo Veneziano, a 14th-century painting on wood depicting St. Mark’s life stories, several Persian carpets, a beautiful curation of liturgical vestments, illuminated manuscripts, golden tesserae, tapestries, 78 bones of different saints, broken fragments of ancient mosaics, and various other relics. The museum has also launched a website to highlight its history, artworks, and new spaces.

st. mark's basilica tours

Tomb of St. Mark

The Basilica was constructed with the aim to house the tomb of Saint Mark. During construction, the ruins of the old buildings that existed at the site were converted to a crypt while the Basilica was built above it. The final remains of Saint Mark lie in this crypt situated below the presbytery. It is believed that Venetian merchants smuggled Saint Mark’s corpse from Egypt to Venice. The crypt was under restoration work after which it was reopened in 1889. A British historian once claimed that the remains belong to Alexander the Great and not Saint Mark. However, there is still no evidence to prove the claim. The crypt is open for tours beyond the usual opening hours.

st. mark's basilica tours

Transept Chapels

St. Mark’s Basilica is home to several transept chapels like Cappella della Madonna dei Mascoli, Cappella di San Clemente, the Zen Chapel, Cappella della Madonna Nicopeia, Cappella di San Giovanni, and the Chapel of St. Isadore, among others. Such chapels are usually dedicated to specific saints and the Basilica boasts several of them situated in the arms that extend at either side of the main dome. Find beautiful vault mosaics depicting stories and episodes from the lives of the different saints with chapels built in their honor.

st. mark's basilica tours

Mosaic and Marble Inlays

One of the most beautiful features of St. Mark’s Basilica is the mosaics and marble inlays. One can spend hours admiring the over 8000 square meters of mosaics that cover the walls, vaults, and domes of the Basilica. Made from ground gold, the mosaics light up the whole Basilica with a warm glow when sunlight enters the structure. They depict stories from the Bible, allegorical figures, and events from the lives of Christ, the Virgin Mary, Saint Mark, and others.

Another striking feature of St. Mark’s Basilica is the marble inlays that cover 2099 square meters of the floor. Covered in earthy tones, the marble inlays are designed in a geometric pattern and interspersed with floral and animal designs. These precious marbles came to Venice from Constantinople after the Fourth Crusade in 1204 and were used symbolically to build the Basilica based on their color and characteristics.

st. mark's basilica tours

The Basilica Terrace

You cannot possibly miss out on the Basilica Terrace on your visit to this iconic monument. The terrace overlooks St. Mark’s Square offering stunning views of the city of Venice and its various other landmarks and important monuments. Make note of the rare tapestries, textiles, and the famous original horses of the Basilica on your way up to the terrace. The horses on the façade outside the monument are replicas. The original masterpiece is at the level of the Basilica Terrace. 

st. mark's basilica tours

Campanile

At a height of 99 meters, the Campanile is an imposing tower with a spire that was originally a lighthouse or watchtower to aid shipping. It was first constructed in the 12th century and then transformed into what we see today in the 16th century. A belfry (which offers a bird’s eye view of the city), spire, and rotating platform with a statue of Archangel Gabriel were added during the rebuilding process. There were five bells on the Campanile, but following the collapse of the tower in 1902, only the largest of them remains. Also, notice the balcony decorated with marbles against the base of the tower.

Guided Tours vs Non-Guided Tours

st. mark's basilica tours
st. mark's basilica tours

What to Expect on a St. Mark's Basilica Tour?

St. Mark’s Basilica is massive. You might find it difficult to navigate the attraction all by yourself, which is why a guided tour is recommended because it includes an expert guide with in-depth knowledge of the Basilica. You can listen to fascinating stories and anecdotes about the site on your tour. A St. Mark’s Basilica tour will enhance your experience of the visit because you have an expert telling you all that there is to know about the historic site.

After you meet your group and guide at the designated meeting point, you will be taken inside St. Mark’s Basilica and shown all the artworks, architecture, mosaic inlays, and installations as well as major points of interest like the dome, the treasury, the St. Mark’s Museum, Pala d’Or, the Tomb of St. Mark, the Transept Chapels, Campanile, and the Basilica Terrace. Soak in the rich history and magnificent architecture of the Basilica as well as stunning views of the city of Venice and its iconic landmarks on your St. Mark’s Basilica tour.

Visitor Tips

  • We recommend booking your tickets online and well in advance.
  • Wear comfortable shoes because the St. Mark’s Basilica tour involves quite a bit of walking around.
  • After your tour, there are several attractions around the Basilica that you can explore like the Piazetta, the clock tower, Doge’s Palace, and Museo Correr, among others.
  • The best time to visit St. Mark’s Basilica is in the morning when it opens to the public.
  • There are lockers available to store backpacks or any other heavy bag that you might be carrying.
  • Wear appropriate clothes because you will not be allowed inside if your shoulders and legs are exposed.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of suspicious offers by fraudsters.
  • There are many restaurants on St. Mark’s Square and nearby areas if you’d like to grab a bite to eat.

Frequently Asked Questions About St. Mark's Basilica Tours

Q. Can I book a St. Mark’s Basilica tour?

A. Yes. St. Mark’s Basilica tours are available for booking.

Q. How do I book a St. Mark’s Basilica tour?

A. You can book a St. Mark’s Basilica tour online.

Q. How much does a St. Mark’s Basilica tour cost?

A. St. Mark’s Basilica guided tours start at €39.

Q. What are the different types of St. Mark’s Basilica tours?

A. There are five types of St. Mark’s Basilica guided tours – St. Mark’s Basilica Guided Tour, Skip the Line: St. Mark’s Basilica with Walking Tour of Venice, Venice Icons Tour: Doge’s Palace with St. Mark’s Basilica Skip-the-Line, Venice in a Day with Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica Guided Tour, and Guided Tour of St. Mark’s Basilica with Gondola Ride.

Q. What is included in the St. Mark’s Basilica tours?

A. The St. Mark’s Basilica guided tour includes a visit to all the major points of interest inside the Basilica like the Treasury, the Transept Chapels, the Tomb of St. Mark, the Campanile, the Basilica Terrace, the Dome, and more.

Q. In what languages are the St. Mark’s Basilica tours available?

A. St. Mark’s Basilica guided tours are available in four languages – English, Spanish, German, and French.

Q. What does the St. Mark’s Basilica guided tour cover?

A. The St. Mark’s Basilica guided tour covers all the major attractions inside St. Mark’s Basilica like Pala d’Oro, the Tomb of St. Mark, mosaic and marble inlays, the Terrace, Dome, and the St. Mark’s Museum, to name a few. Your tour guide will fill you in on all the important information, history, and other interesting facts about the Basilica.

Q. How many people can go on a St. Mark’s Basilica tour?

A. It depends on the type of guided tour you book. The small group tour will have no more than 10 people while the other guided tours have a maximum capacity of 25 guests.

Q. Is the St. Mark’s Basilica tour worth it?

A. Yes. The St. Mark’s Basilica tour is worth it because it is the largest church in Venice and one of the most iconic ones in the world. It houses the remains of Saint Mark and is famous for its mosaic flooring.

Q. Do the St. Mark’s Basilica tours include skip the line access?

A. Yes. The St. Mark’s Basilica guided tours include a skip the line feature, which means you get priority access to the attraction.

Q. Can I cancel a booked St. Mark’s Basilica tour?

A. Yes. You can cancel your St. Mark’s Basilica tour between 24 to 72 hours before the scheduled date and get a full refund. Make sure you check the cancellation policy of the tour you book.

Q. How long is the St. Mark’s Basilica guided tour?

A. The St. Mark’s Basilica guided tour can take anywhere between 1 to 4 hours, depending on the tour you book.

Q. Are there any discounted tickets for St. Mark’s Basilica tours?

A. Yes. You can get up to 5% off on your St. Mark's Basilica tour tickets. Additionally, children between 2 to 5 years of age can enjoy reduced ticket prices for the Guided Tour of St. Mark’s Basilica with Gondola Ride.