The Basilica of San Marco is one of the most iconic buildings in Venice, Italy. It is located in the Piazza San Marco, the largest public square in Venice. This basilica is an example of Venetian-Byzantine architecture and is one of the most visited sites in Venice. It is a stunning example of the wealth and power of the Venetian Republic.
History of the Basilica
The Basilica of San Marco was built in 828 AD, after two merchants from Venice stole the body of Saint Mark the Evangelist from Alexandria. The merchants, Rustico and Buono, smuggled the body of Saint Mark in a barrel of pork, and it is said that the body was placed in the basilica upon their arrival in Venice. Over the centuries, the basilica was rebuilt and expanded, with its most recent renovations occurring in the 19th century.
Architecture of the Basilica
The basilica is a mixture of Byzantine, Gothic, and Romanesque styles, and is a stunning example of Venetian-Byzantine architecture. The main facade of the basilica is adorned with a large mosaic depicting the Ascension of Christ. The interior of the basilica is covered with more than 8,000 square meters of marble mosaics, depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The basilica also houses several important works of art, including the Pala d’Oro (Golden Altarpiece), the bronze horses of San Marco, and the elaborate pulpit.
Attractions Inside the Basilica
The Pala d’Oro
The Pala d’Oro is an elaborate gold and enamel altarpiece that was created in the early 14th century. It is composed of over 2,000 gems, including rubies, sapphires, and pearls, and it is one of the most important works of art in the basilica.
The Bronze Horses
The four bronze horses that adorn the basilica’s main facade were originally part of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. They were taken to Venice in 1204 and placed in the basilica in 1797. The horses are now housed in the museum inside the basilica.
The elaborate pulpit inside the basilica was created in the 12th century and is composed of marble, bronze, and gold. It is adorned with scenes from the Old and New Testaments and is an important example of Romanesque art.
The treasury of the basilica contains a large collection of relics and artifacts, including religious objects, liturgical vestments, and coins. Many of these items were donated to the basilica by wealthy patrons over the centuries.
Visiting the Basilica
The Basilica of San Marco is open to visitors every day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is free, but visitors must abide by the dress code and can only take photos with permission from the staff.
- No shorts or sleeveless shirts are allowed
- No photography is allowed inside the basilica
- No food or drinks are allowed inside the basilica
The Basilica of San Marco is a stunning example of Venetian-Byzantine architecture and is one of the most visited sites in Venice. It is a must-see for any visitor to the city, and its interior is filled with treasures that are sure to captivate any visitor.