St. Marks Basilica

About St. Mark's Basilica Venice

Everything You Need to Know About St. Mark's Basilica
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About St. Mark's Basilica Venice

As one of Italy's most impressive cathedrals, St. Mark's Basilica Venice is a popular destination for visitors to Venice. The Saint Mark's Basilica is a perfect example of Venetian style and is worth visiting only to get a feel for it. This Golden Church" as it is commonly referred to, is a stunning architectural masterpiece that is especially well-known for its abundance of golden mosaics. The Basilica of St. Mark has come to symbolize Venice and the Venetian people for centuries. Although it was built originally as a private chapel for the Doge, over the years the church came to play a pivotal part in the city's religious and political life.

Why Should You Visit St. Mark's Basilica?

  • St Mark's Basilica Venice is one of the most significant churches in Venice as it serves as a focal point for the city's civic and religious life.

  • Learn more about the history of Venice and her dukes by paying a visit to the basilica where they were crowned.

  • The basilica is a product of a variety of architectural styles, the result of years of renovation that managed to preserve the building's eastern features while incorporating new ideas.

  • Visit the church and take in the shimmering Byzantine mosaics that cover the main entrance.

  • It is evidence of the commercial and military might of the Serene Republic of Venice and her citizens in the Mediterranean.

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St. Mark's Basilica Venice Highlights

Pala d'Oro
Pala d'Oro

When it comes to St Mark's Basilica Venice’s priceless treasures, the Pala d'Oro is unrivaled. This Byzantine altarpiece is a gold panel 3.45 meters in length and 1.4 meters in height that is encrusted with hundreds of gems, including 1,300 pearls, 300 emeralds, 300 sapphires, 400 garnets, 100 amethysts, rubies, and topazes. After Napoleon dishonestly stole several in 1797, security measures were strengthened and the gems are now kept under glass. This altar was designed and built by master goldsmiths from Venice and Constantinople. It features a Romanesque arch at the top and a Gothic arch at the bottom.

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St. Mark’s Basilica Treasury

The St Mark's Basilica Venice’s treasury, which can be reached from the corner of the south transept, is located to the right of the main altar and houses priceless artifacts that have been acquired throughout the years. Items in the treasury can be found in four distinct groups: Items from antiquity and the early middle centuries, such as a pair of crystal lamps shaped like fish and a pair of amphorae fashioned from a single piece of agate. Goldwork from the Byzantine Empire, such as two little icons of St. Michael the Archangel and a pair of cloisonné enameled chalices. Islamic artifacts, such the turquoise glass bowl decorated with semiprecious stones and depicting stylized animals in relief, and featuring the famed perfume-brazier, objects of western provenance.

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Museo di San Marco
Museo di San Marco

The Triumphal Quadriga greets visitors as they enter St. Mark's Museum (the four bronze horses). There is a wooden painting by Paolo Veneziano depicting scenes from the life of St. Mark that was used as the cover for the Pala d'Oro, a book published at the turn of the nineteenth century. There are also Byzantine sculptures from the 12th century, Persian carpets, liturgical costumes, illuminated manuscripts with the contents of St. Mark liturgies, and bits of historic mosaics that were taken during repairs in the 19th century. The earliest of these items dates back to the 13th century when Gobelin tapestries were created.

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Marble Inlays

After the Fourth Crusade ended in 1204, valuable marbles from Constantinople poured into Venice. When building the basilica, these marbles were chosen for their symbolic significance due to their unique qualities and hues. As an illustration, the crimson porphyry was revered as the world's rarest gem and was thought to bestow divine favor. This is why it was chosen for the doge's tribune and the porphyry group of the Tetrarchs on the south front. The apse columns, which were especially prized, were crafted from pavonazzetto marble (distinguished by violet or reddish patterns), another rare marble.

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Tomb of Saint Marks
Tomb of St. Mark

Before the construction of the current basilica began in 1063, the rubble of the old church was used to create a crypt. This crypt houses the tomb of St. Mark, and was opened to the public once more in 1889, after the basilica had undergone extensive renovation. In a recent mind-numbing argument, a British historian argued that the tomb of the famous preacher, which is located underneath the presbytery, actually houses the bones of Alexander the Great. However, this notion has to be proven with more concrete facts.

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Architecture St. Mark's Basilica Venice

Southern Facade
North and South Facade

St Mark's Basilica Venice is a large church with three symmetrical facades that radiate out from its lower body in the directions of the north, south, and west. The well-known Porta dei Fiori, also known as the Door of Flowers, is a Nativity relief from the 13th century that is located on the north facade overlooking Piazzetta dei Leoncini. Two ornate pillars, known as the Pilastri Acritani, stand in front of the building's southern front, which faces the Grand Canal. The Porphyry Group of the Tetrarchy and the Pietra del Bando, a Porphyry Column with its Base Cut Off, are located in the corner of this facade.

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saint marks basilica

St. Mark's Basilica's west facade can be seen from the outside and is composed of three distinct sections: the lower section, the top section, and the domes. The narthex can be accessed through one of five arched entrances located on the lower register and framed by polychrome marble columns. Above the main gate is a gilded mosaic representing "The Last Judgment," which is one of a series of mosaics commemorating events from Christ's life. St. Mark's relics are described in the lunettes of the side gateways of north transept. The Winged Lion, the state emblem of the Republic of Venice, adorns the arch over the sizable picture window.

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St Mark's Basilica Venice inside is home to more than 8,000 square meters of mosaics, most of which are made of gold, and was constructed over the course of 800 years. The gold background, lit exclusively from behind, not only provides an image that arrests the observer's senses, but also adorns the scene with a wealth of Christian art symbolism. Each arm of the Greek cross-shaped basilica is separated into three naves. Even though the cathedral's interior is a mishmash of architectural styles, ranging from classical to 19th-century, the shape and mosaics give it a Byzantine air.

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All five domes, which stand over the Greek cross's intersection and its arms, are over 13 meters in diameter, and each dome features 16 windows. From 1160 to 1200 CE, gold mosaics were installed inside the domes. The center dome represents Christ's ascent into heaven after his resurrection. While some Western influences may be seen in the dome's decoration, the predominant style is unmistakably Byzantine, reflecting Venice's powerful and lucrative trade ties to the Eastern Roman Empire.

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Transept Chapels
Transept Chapels

Transept Chapels typically honor a specific saint. Several different chapels honor the Virgin Mary and other saints in St. Mark's Basilica. They can be found in the relatively brief extensions along the main dome’s both sides. Above the north transept in the Cappella di San Giovanni are mosaics from the 12th century showing scenes from the life of St. John. The Byzantine image of the Madonna Nicopeia is displayed on Cappella della Madonna Nicopeia’s altar, which is also located in the north transept of St Mark's Basilica Venice inside. The south transept houses Cappella di San Clemente, traditionally known as the Doge's chapel.

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History of St. Mark's Basilica Venice

St. Mark’s Basilica Venice

The original St Mark's Basilica Venice was constructed in 828 AD to house the relics of Saint Mark the Evangelist, which had been relocated there from Alexandria, where they had been stolen. It was a temporary structure at the time, part of Doge Giustiniano Particiaco's palace. Since its initial construction as a permanent church in 832, Saint Mark's Basilica has gone through a number of changes. The original structure was destroyed in an uprising in 976. The current structure of Saint Mark's Basilica dates back to a building effort initiated in 1063 under the direction of Domenico Contarini, even though the church was restored in 978. There have been many transformations to Saint Mark's Basilica since then, both physically and symbolically. St. Mark's Basilica has been expanded and improved upon by many people over the centuries, with contributions from all around the world. Before 1807, St. Mark's Basilica served as a state church, but with Napoleon's decrees, it also became the cathedral of the city of Venice and the seat of the Patriarch of Venice.

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Know Before You Go

Location & Timings
How to Reach
Best Time to Visit
Rules & Regulations
Facilities and Accessibilities

Location: San Marco, 328, 30100 Venezia VE, Italy


  • The doors to the Basilica of St. Marks are unlocked daily at 9:30 AM and remain open until 5:15 PM.

  • Basilica tours begin at 2 p.m. on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.

  • On Sundays, between the hours of 9:30 AM and 2:00 PM, visitors can explore the Loggia dei Cavalli museum.

  • Every day from 9:30 AM to 9:15 PM, visitors can climb the Bell Tower.

  • The Basilica is open to the public without charge for worship, mass, and other services. From Piazzetta dei Leoncini, head north to the entryway Porta dei Fiori. Prayers are held everyday at 8 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

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Visitor's Tips

  • Visit the gallery just on the St Mark's Basilica Venice inside entrance to get the best look at the mosaics.
  • Please remove any necessary emergency equipment, such as an inhaler, before leaving your rucksack on the Piazzetta dei Leoncini outside of Ateneo San Basso's main door (located on the building's north wall, to the left of the main entrance).
  • Men should wear shirts, women should not wear tank tops, and shorts are not allowed.
  • Even if you think you know everything there is to know, a tour guide can help you get in the door. Your trip will be planned out, your guide will know their stuff, and they'll be available at all times for questions.
  • When you're done exploring the basilica, head to one of the many outdoor cafes in Piazza San Marco and relax with a Bellini, a beverage made from Prosecco and peach nectar.


Is there a dress code for St Mark's Basilica?

Yes, the Saint Mark's Basilica has a dress code, and in accordance with it, sleeveless or short shirts, shorts, and miniskirts are not permitted (no bare legs or arms).

How much time do you need at St Mark's Basilica?

90 minutes to two hours should be sufficient to visit St Mark's basilica inside. The museum itself is exquisite, and the balcony above it is even better.

Can you take photos inside St Mark's Basilica?

No photography or video recording is allowed inside Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice.

What are the St. Mark’s Basilica opening hours?

The doors to St. Mark's Basilica are always open, and they don't close until 5:15 p.m. On Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, the Basilica doors open at 2:00 PM.

What are the nearby attractions to St. Mark's Basilica Venice?

The nearby attractions to St. Mark's Basilica Venice include the clock tower of Torre dell’ Orologio, St Mark’s Campanile, Doge’s Palace, and Bridge of Sighs.