|A BRIEF HISTORY
The main centre of the town's public and religious life, the basilica is the place where the Dogi were consecrated and one of Venice's most renowned symbols.
It was founded in the 9th century to preserve St. Mark's corpse (it was stolen in Alexandria of Egypt in 828).
St Mark is Venice's patron and the basilica's complex and articulated structure reflects the different phases of the construction, which put gothic and 16th-century elements on Romanesque and Byzantine elements.
The basilica was restructured many times and took on the typical profile of Byzantine churches, with a large central dome and hemispheric domes, surmounted by bulb cupolas.
The façade develops on two floors with five arcades, with a gothic crowning (14th-15th centuries) of pinnacles, niches and statues.
The lower order, open by five portals with bronze knockers, has a complex interlacement of small arches, columns, marble decorations, note in particular the relieves in the central arcade (Months, Virtues and Prophets), dating back to the 13th century, and those in the intrados of the major arch (Occupations), dating back to the 15th century.
The mosaics on the façade, except that in the spherical vault, were remade in the 17th-18th centuries.
On the upper terrace, note copies of the four horses that were taken to Venice in 1204 from Constantinople (the originals are in the Museum San Marco).
the northern side note a portal ornamented with a 13th-century relief,
low-relieves of Byzantine art dating back to 12th-13th centuries and Daniele
Manin's tomb (1868).
In the southern side one of the side entrances still
remains, in front of it note two pillars ornamented with relieves, taken
here by St. John from Acri after 1256, some believe they belong to the
Syrian art of 5th-6th centuries, others believe they are part of Byzantine-Islamic
works of 12th century.
On the corner with Porta della carta (see Palazzo
Ducale), note a porphyry group of tetraches, possibly a Syrian work of
the 4th century, near the corner towards the square note the stone of
announcements, a piece of a Syrian column from which the Ordinances of
the Republic were read, the column was broken by the collapse of the bell
tower in 1902.
In the atrium (or narthex) before the entrance to the church,
note the marble mosaic floor dating back to the 11th-12th centuries.
contain marbles and columns, vaults with cupolas shine with mosaics* (Stories
of the Old Testament) of venetian-Byzantine art of 12th and 13th centuries.
Three portals with bronze knockers dating back to the 11th-12th centuries
give access to the church. In correspondence to the arcade of the central
door, through a square opening called the well" visitors can see the mosaic vault (16th century) in the big arch of Paradiso.
The interior is a typical Byzantine, Greek cross-structure, with a nave and two aisles in each arm, divided by colonnades above which are the women's galleries; huge arches support the five domes covered with mosaics.
The floor, which has sinking parts due to the setting of the building on piles, is covered with mosaics with geometrical motifs (12th century, partly remade).
The mosaics with gold background decorating the upper wall surfaces and the domes, represent one of the basilica's richest features. They were made by Venetian and Byzantine workers during the 12th-14th centuries and were partly remade in the 16th-17th centuries on cartoons by Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and others. Among the most ancient mosaics, recognisable for their stylised shapes and the solemn features of characters, note those along the walls of lower aisles (Christ, Mary, Prophets and Apostles), those of the domes and especially the scene of Ascension in the central dome.
The Baptistery, made in 1300 closing a part of the atrium, is in the right aisle of the cross foot. It hosts tombs of Dogi and a font by Jacopo Sansovino (1545), in the cupolas of the dome, note mosaics of 14th century. In the wall opposite to the altar is the access to the Zen chapel, ornamented with mosaics of the 13th century, with a 16th-century bronze altar and the big sepulchre of cardinal G. B. Zen (1501), by Paolo Savin.
The presbytery is elevated on the crypt and is closed by a marble enclosure (iconostasis), surmounted by statues of the Dalle Masegne (1396).
The high altar containing St Mark's corpse, is supported by four alabaster columns* historiated with 12-century capitals and surmounted by a ciborium decorated with six statues of the 13th century.
Behind the high altar is the famous Gold Piece**, a work of Venetian and Byzantine goldsmithery (10th-14th centuries), studded.
|BOOK YOUR VISIT
You can purchase online a ticket to get privileged access to St Mark's Cathedral and avoid the long queue at a cost of Euro 2.00 per person. You can get a reservation of your access to San Marco Basilica on the day and at a time you prefer. This reservation and ticket will allow you to have more free time to spend during your holiday in Venice. The reservation service is available from 1st of April to 31st of October every year- which also is the best time to visit St Mark's Basilica – and you can book online up until 10 minutes before the chosen time for the visit. From November to March St Mark's Basilica is open to visitors, but the Skip the Line service is suspended because waiting times to enter the Basilica from the main entrance reduce considerably and visitors can therefore enter without having to queue for a long time.
Visit St Mark's Basilica in Venice from a new perspective with two exclusive tours by venetoinside.com! Both offer a covert visit that will lead you to discover from a new point of view valuable art works and places generally closed to the public inside the symbolic monument in Venice.
St. Mark's Museum and Cathedral from above
St. Mark's Cathedral and its Treasures