Important religious site
Being older than most of the European churches, the basilica looks like a remnant of an era gone by. Once chapel of the Doges and now one of the iconic landmarks in Europe, St. Mark’s Basilica is a holy place and the last home for St. Mark’ remnants, brought here in 829. With the fall of Constantinople, shiploads of art treasures from Byzantine were delivered to Venice by the crusaders to be lavishly displayed in the Basilica over the years.
Among Europe’s most beautiful churches, St. Mark’s Basilica has south and north façade. The south one was intended to be a ceremonial entrance with mosaics and sculptures, offering a fabulous view from the Grad Canal. The north façade faces Piazzeta dei Leoncini with the Door of Flowers relief and two other reliefs depicting the Twelve Apostles and the chariot of Alexander the Great.
What To Pay Attention To
Breathtakingly beautiful, St. Mark’s Basilica is nicely ornamented with more than 500 columns of alabaster, colored marble, jasper and porphyry, with huge domes and oriental treasures, ethereal statues and gold mosaics, some of which by Tintoretto and Titian. The places that should be seen here include:
The Porch and the Gallery – the mosaics on the arches and domes come from the 13th century. The open gallery is above the porch.
The Mosaics – they take the breath away, reviving the spirit of Byzantine. The gold mosaics which cover the domes spread over 4240 sq.m and most of them are dated between 1160 – 1200. The best view to the mosaics is from the galleries close to the museum.
Marble Floor – earth tones marble, natural patterns and geometrical forms cover almost 2100 sq.m of the basilica.
Pala d’Oro – this golden leaf alter is 1.4 m high and 3.45 m long. The golden retable is among the most delightful Byzantine religious art, featuring precious stones and gems and considered the finest on the continent. It has circular enamel and gold plates on the rim, intricate medallions depicting the lives of Christ and St. Mark, and other biblical themes.
Transept Chapels – at either side of the main dome there are several chapels dedicated to different saints.
Treasury – it is entered from the corner of the south transept and is full of precious objects including more than 280 pieces of gold and other precious stones, icons, Venetian filigree, Islamic art, art and gifts collections by the dodges.
Museo Marciano – it is reached through a small door next to the main entrance. The museum displays the originals of the four copper horses over the main entrance. There are also Gobelin tapestries, sculptures, and other pieces of art.
Meters away is Doge’s Palace, another major attraction of Venice.