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Explore the timeless beauty of the Basilica of San Marco: a hidden treasure in the heart of Venice

Updated: Jan 18, 2023

St Mark's Basilica is one of Venice's main tourist attractions, located in St Mark's Square, the heart of the city's public and religious life. Its historical and architectural importance make it a must-see destination for anyone visiting Venice.

Basilica of San Marco
Basilica of San Marco

The History of the Basilica

The construction of St Mark's Basilica began in 828, to house the body of Venice's patron saint, St Mark, who had arrived from Alexandria. It was originally intended to be part of the Doge's Palace, but later became a separate building. Although the current building dates back to the 11th century, it has been modified and extended over the centuries.

The Basilica has a Latin cross plan with five domes and was declared a cathedral of the city of Venice in 1807. The Basilica, located in St. Mark's Square of the same name, boasts more than 4,000 square meters of mosaics, some dating back to the 13th century, and 500 columns dating back to the 3rd century, making it a unique testimony to the city's art and history.

St Mark's Basilica Tickets

Inside St Mark's Basilica, the predominant colour is gold. The mosaics of the main dome, that of the Ascension, dating back to the early 13th century, depict scenes from the New Testament. The atria of the mosaic were made of glass and gold tiles, depicting scenes from the Old Testament.

Under the high altar, supported by four columns of alabaster and marble, is the tomb of St Mark, the patron saint of Venice.

Access to the Basilica is free, however, there are some areas, such as the Museum, the Treasury and the Golden Pall, which require an entrance fee.

The Horses of St. Mark

The Museum and St Mark's Horses are among the most visited attractions in St Mark's Basilica. When visiting the museum, one can take a close look at the roofs and mosaics of the cathedral, observe the museum's artwork, and admire the original sculptures of St Mark's Horses. These four bronze, gilded horses were originally in the hippodrome in Constantinople and were acquired by Venice as war booty during the Fourth Crusade.

Copies of these horses can be found in the Loggia dei Cavalli, the balcony overlooking St Mark's Square.

Reaching the Basilica and St Mark's Square from the water is a unique and unforgettable experience. Book your water taxi service now to easily reach the square click here.

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