About Saint Mark’s Basilica
Saint Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco a Venezia) is a world famous Byzantine cathedral in Venice’s St. Mark’s Square, sometimes known as Chiesa d’Oro or “Church of gold”.
History of St Mark’s Basilica
St. Mark’s Basilica was originally founded in 828 AD, after the relics of the patron saint Mark the evangelist were brought, or reportedly stolen, from Alexandria. At this time it was a temporary building forming part of the palace of the Doge Giustiniano Particiaco.
Saint Mark’s Basilica has since undergone a series of transformations, first being built as a permanent church in 832 only to be burnt down in 976 as part of a rebellion. Although the church was rebuilt in 978, it was actually a construction project commenced in 1063 under the auspices of Domenico Contarini which formed the basis of the current form of Saint Mark’s Basilica.
The Basilica was consecrated by Vitale Falier on 8 October 1094, when It was dedicated to Saint Mark. Since that time, Saint Mark’s Basilica has undergone a series of changes, both in terms of its architecture and social stature. Numerous people have added to and enhanced St Mark’s Basilica over the years, bringing pieces from around the world which have contributed to its grandeur.
From a religious perspective, St Mark’s Basilica was a state church until 1807, when it became the seat of the Patriarch of Venice and, on the subsequent orders of Napoleon, the city cathedral.
Every aspect of the historic St Mark’s Basilica is on a grand scale, from its three-part façade with ornate theological carvings to its Greek cross-shaped interior with its ceilings covered in golden mosaics.
St Mark’s Basilica today
In fact, the basilica is so elaborate that its entrance or “narthex” is intended to prepare visitors for what they are about to see. Guided tours are available or an independent walk around St Mark’s Basilica only takes approximately ten minutes to half an hour. There is also a museum and access to the bell tower.
The basilica is open every day, but afternoons only on Sundays. Go for Mass and you’ll see the full experience of how this building was meant to be used: it’s an awe-inspiring experience regardless of your beliefs.
Getting to St Mark’s Basilica
St Mark’s is the heart of Venice: St Mark’s Square in front of it is the main tourist destination and you’ll walk past the basilica multiple times on any trip there, even if you’re not trying to. Most watertaxis stop on the edge of St Marks’ Square, as do boats in from the mainland.