St. Mark’s Basilica

History of St. Mark's Basilica Venice

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History of St. Mark's Basilica Venice

After Saint Mark the Evangelist's remains were stolen from Alexandria, they were sent to Venice, where the first St. Mark's Basilica was built in 828 AD to house the saint's remains. Part of Doge Giustiniano Particiaco's palace, it was a temporary building. Numerous alterations have been made to Saint Mark's Basilica since its original construction as a permanent church in 832. During a revolt in 976, the old building was demolished. In spite of the fact that the cathedral was restored in 978, the present structure of Saint Mark's Basilica goes back to a building effort begun in 1063 under the guidance of Domenico Contarini. Physically and symbolically, Saint Mark's Basilica has undergone significant changes since then. Over the years, numerous people from all over the world have contributed to the growth and improvement of St. Mark's Basilica. As per history of St Mark's Basilica it was the state church of Venice before Napoleon's decrees in 1807 made it the cathedral of Venice and the seat of the Patriarch of Venice as well.

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St. Mark’s Basilica
Participazio church (c. 829–976)

The translatio, in which two Venetian merchants removed Saint Mark's body from Alexandria, Egypt, and brought it to Venice in 828/829, is recounted in several medieval chronicles. According to the Chronicon Venetum, before the construction of the Doge's Palace on the site of the castrum, the relics of Saint Mark were kept in a corner tower of the castrum. Doge Giustiniano Participazio, who reigned in 827–828, left instructions in his will for his widow and his younger brother and successor Giovanni to build a cathedral to Saint Mark to keep the remains. The new church as per the history of St Mark's Basilica was to be built, according to Giustiniano, in the area between the Church of Saint Theodore and the castrum, which was to the north. The relocation of Saint Mark's remains to the new church may have occurred as early as 836, during Giustinian's lifetime.

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St. Mark’s Basilica
Orseolo church (976–c. 1063)

In 976, during the popular rebellion against Doge Pietro IV Candiano, who was in office from 959 to 976, the fire that angry masses had lit to remove the Doge from the castrum spread to the next church, the Participazio, causing extensive damage. Despite the building's survival, it was damaged to the degree where Candiano's successor, Pietro I Orseolo, in office 976-978, had to be elected in the San Pietro di Castello cathedral. Two years later, and at the family's personal expense, the church had been restored, suggesting that the damage had been little to begin with. The walls and supports were probably still in good shape, but the wooden parts had been destroyed.

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Contarini church at present

St. Mark’s Basilica

It was during the middle of the eleventh century that several Italian cities, anxious to flaunt their burgeoning commercial wealth and authority, began building or restoring their cathedrals on a magnificent scale. The history of St Mark's Basilica has it that it was also extensively renovated and enlarged under the reign of Doge Domenico I Contarini (1043-1071), making the church look like a completely different structure. By absorbing the southern lateral nave of Saint Theodore's Church, the northern transept was prolonged. The crypt was also increased to the east, and the high altar was relocated from under the central dome to the elevated chancel, which was maintained by a structure of columns and vaults in the underneath crypt.

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The original design for the Contarini church called for a very serious brick edifice. Only the arcade columns, gallery balustrades and parapets, and lattice altar screens were decorated on the inside. The history of St Mark's Basilica states that walls were embellished with niches, a few cornices, and molded arches that were interspersed with engaged brickwork columns. The western facade has a similar pattern of arches and projecting pillars to medieval Byzantine churches built in the 10 and eleventh centuries. Windows were cut into the walls at bigger blind angles, and the pillars in between were decorated with niches and round patere constructed of precious marbles and stones and framed in decorative molding. Corbel tables and friezes were among the other ornamental elements that followed Romanesque fashion, demonstrating the workers' skilled taste.

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St. Mark’s Basilica
Later modifications

According to the history of St Mark's Basilica, there were originally more windows in the church than the sixteen in each of the five domes, with three or seven in the apse and perhaps eight in each of the lunettes. However, many of these windows were closed up in order to provide more room for the mosaic artwork. As built, the Contarini church's narthex was only accessible from the west. The northernmost niche is all that's left of the original Byzantine church's lateral extension beyond the façade. The original brick domes of Byzantine churches were covered with bigger outer shells in the thirteenth century's first half, and these shells supported bulbous lights ornamented with crosses.

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Interesting Facts About St. Mark's Basilica Venice

saint marks basilica
  • The Doge of Venice has always held a significant amount of influence. It stands to reason, then, that the most excellent religious establishment is the one where he offered his prayers. For a thousand years, the title "Doge's Church" accurately described St. Mark's Basilica.

  • A bronze quadriga, or four horses, can be seen in the church's museum. The ancient statues were looted from Constantinople and taken as war booty to Venice. During the Fourth Crusade, numerous valuable things, such as this one, were looted from Constantinople.

  • People from Venice have been globetrotting since the city's inception. Because of their maritime heritage, they were exposed to many other cultures, and had a unique relationship with the Byzantine empire.

  • Within the walls of St. Mark's Basilica are a trove of priceless artifacts and masterpieces known collectively as "The Treasure of St. Mark's." Ancient vases, amphorae, and enameled glasses studded with precious stones are only a few of the items that may be found displayed around the outside.

  • The gold Byzantine altar screen is practically covered in hundreds of jewels, and makes for one of the most interesting facts about St Mark's Basilica. Among them are 300 emeralds, 1,300 pearls, 300 sapphires, 400 garnets, rubies, and topazes.

  • They took St. Mark's body from Alexandria in 828, the year he died. Some say they concealed them beneath a pig wagon and got away with it. The Muslim guard who checked them out refused to touch the pork, so he allowed them through.

  • An ancient Greek saint named Theodore served as Venice's patron. The church was constructed by the Venetians around the year 819 CE, and it was most likely made of wood. One of the lesser known facts about St Mark's Basilica is that the theft of St. Mark's relics altered the course of history.

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Why is St Mark's Basilica famous?

St. Mark's Basilica is well-known for the stunning Byzantine mosaics in gold that cover the interior of the cathedral. These mosaics earned it the nickname "Chiesa d'Oro," or "Golden Church." These mosaics are used to embellish the basilica's five domes as well as the main entrance to the cathedral.

When was St Mark's Basilica Venice built?

One of the facts about St Mark's Basilica is that it was built in 1063 as a way for the city of Venice to show off its rising sense of civic pride and responsibility. The relics of St. Mark were to be buried in the basilica that was constructed in the 9th century and is now known as St. Mark's.

Who built St Mark's Basilica?

The architect who helped construct the St. Mark's Basilica was Domenico Contarini.

How long did it take to build St Mark's Basilica?

It took four years, from 828 to 832, but the first church finally went up next to the Doge's Palace. However, if you read up on the facts about St Mark's Basilica you would know that it took 31 years to complete the church's renovation, from 1063 to 1094.

How do I book tickets to visit St. Mark's Basilica?

You can get tickets to St. Mark's Basilica from a reliable source online. You must acquire tickets in order to avoid the unbearably long lineups at the Basilica's entrance.

What’s inside St. Mark's Basilica?

St. Mark's Basilica features more than 8,000 square meters of golden mosaics and other elaborate embellishments throughout its interior. Additionally, there lies Saint Mark's holy tomb.

What are the mass timings at St Mark's Basilica?

Opening hours for Porta dei Fiori are as follows: Monday through Friday, 7 AM to 7:30 PM; Saturday, Sunday, and holidays, 7 AM to 7:45 PM.

Where is St. Mark's Basilica?

In St. Mark's Square, close to the Doge's Palace, you'll find the magnificent St Mark's Basilica.

Why should I visit St. Mark's Basilica?

You must visit St. Mark's Basilica as it is one of the city's most prominent religious buildings, Venetian institutions. A stunning architectural masterpiece, it serves as a symbol of the city's rich history, diverse religious community, and cultural significance.