ALATA - Saint Mark's Church, Booking Guided Visits Saint Mark's Church, Tourist Guides
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SOME INFORMATIONS
If you're in Venice you have not to miss the chance to visit the San Marco Basilica, treasure of history, art and faith.

But exactly the beauty of the monument and its fragility demand to limit the enormous visitor flow for preserving its integrity.
To give the greatest number of visitors as possible the chance to admire the interior of the building the visit lasts 10 minutes, also in order to reduce the wait at the entrance.

Alata therefore gives you the opportunity to book free online the visit until two days before the chosen date or even at the last minute at the associated travel agencies.

If you have not a reservation, you can enter the building free anyway. Probably the best time for a visit is in the afternoon when the concourse is usually lower.
For the Basilica is also a place of worship, suitable clothes and behaviour are required. You have to observe the silence, to follow the suggested way and to conform to the directions of the surveillance staff.

Venice owes the delicate balance of the lagoonal surroundings part of its fascination and it can therefore happen that, because of unexpected natural causes like the phenomenon of "acqua alta", even they who have booked their visit are temporarily denied the access to the building or that the opening hours is limited for necessity of worship.
The groups can apply to the associated travel agencies with Alata system to book a guided tour with an authorized guide.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:
Entrance with rucksacks, luggages or any kind of bags is forbidden.
Do not queue before depositing luggages.

The service is free.
For further informations visit the site.



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.

ARCHITECTURE

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).

In 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.
Walls 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.
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FAQ
How shall I visit the Basilica?
Beside being a grand architectural monument, the St. Mark's Basilica is also an important place of worship and as such it deserves respect. Therefore you should remember to wear adequate clothes and to respect the silence during your visit that should not last for longer than 10 minutes. This time is sufficient to visit the building and allows to reduce the wait for those that have to get in.

How can I book the visit?
In this page page click on the push-bottons "book now" on the right which makes you enter a page of informations on the visit, from here go on clicking again on "booking"; at the bottom of the page. Now choose date, time and number of persons (max 5) who you want to book a visit for and click on "availability". N.B. Remember that, for organizing reasons, you can book on-line until two days before your visit. If there is vacancy for date and time required you will receive a form: once you have filled it in with the required data, click on "confirm", after a few seconds you will know if your request has been accepted. Now you have just to print the summary screen of the booking which has to be shown as a voucher at the entrance of the Basilica reserved for individuals with booking.

Can groups also book their visit?
There is the possibility also for groups to book their visit with an authorized guide by applying to the tourist agencies that have an arrangement with Alata.

How much do the visit and the entry ticket cost?
Both Alata's booking service and the visit of the Basilica are free.

And if I don't succeed in booking?
If, after selecting the required date and time of your visit, the research should not find a vacancy, try to change the time: there are 30 available places every twenty minutes.
May be inserting the date, you forgot that it is possible to effect the booking only until two days before the visit. Retry with a later date.
If a vacancy was already found for a date and time but the booking has not been accepted, probably you asked to book for more than 5 persons (the maximum number allowed for the booking) or there are not enough vacancies for all the persons you asked to book for. Retry by reducing the number of persons or change the date or time if you want to go all together!

If you really don't succeed in booking, you can nevertheless visit the building by waiting for your turn in front of the free entrance, better if in the afternoon, because normally there are less visitors.

And if I wish a guided tour?
For guided tours you have to turn to the Association of Venetian Guide Lecturers who will also book your visit. 
 
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