St. Mark's Basilica
The Saint Mark's Basilica is the most famous church in Venice. The mosaics on the dome are Byzantin mosaics and this basilica is also known as the Golden Church because of these golden mosaics on the dome. It is also interesting that while the Basilica of San Marco was being built, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was used as a model.
Saint Mark’s Basilica maintains its popularity as a visitor attraction in Venice through both its architectural and artistic beauty. Of special note is the Pala D’Oro, the gold and jewel-encrusted altar of the church that is a masterpiece of Venetian craftsmanship. The Basilica is also rich in sculptures and other artworks. Since Venice was once the seat of a powerful naval empire, successive generations of rulers and explorers have enriched Saint Mark’s Basilica with a wealth of art and precious artifacts from across the Mediterranean and beyond. For instance, the Venetian conquest of Constantinople in 1204 provided the Basilica with some of its precious marble and gold taken directly from the eastern capital of the Roman Empire. Saint Mark’s Basilica also contains priceless works of art by painters such as Titian and Tintoretto. Every period in the long history of Venice has left its mark on this spectacular church.
Saint Mark’s Basilica lies right in the heart of Venice, in the square that bears the same name, the Piazza San Marco. Even in the narrow and maze-like streets of Venice, you will most likely find yourself in this piazza eventually. Saint Mark’s Basilica is connected to the Doge’s Palace and is very close to the famous Bridge of Sighs, so there are many popular Venetian sights to see in this area. When visiting the Basilica, do remember that as well as being a tourist attraction, this is still a church, and so care should be taken to follow the rules concerning respectful clothing. Visitors are expected to cover up bare shoulders and knees, so shorts, tank tops and miniskirts are not appropriate in the Basilica. Also remember that as a church, Saint Mark’s Basilica may sometimes be closed for special events. Reduced visiting hours are in effect on major religious holidays such as Christmas, Easter and Ferragosto in the middle of August. Even when Saint Mark’s Basilica is open, it is important to remember that it is a house of worship first and foremost, so the behavior of visitors should reflect that. Try to refrain from running, shouting or indulging in other behavior that might disturb the prayers of the church’s other visitors. Between the mix of Italian and Byzantine architecture, the elaborate mosaics, the precious art from around the world and the fascinating history of this iconic church, it’s easy for the casual visitor to Saint Mark’s Basilica to miss a lot of what makes this such a truly unique place to visit, without an expert guide telling all the explanations. It’s also worth remembering that as one of the most popular attractions in a heavily touristed city like Venice, Saint Mark’s Basilica almost always has a line of people waiting to enter. A good way to ensure that you get the most out of your visit to the Basilica is to take a guided tour. Not only will this allow you to skip the line to get inside, but it will also provide you with the necessary background to appreciate this impressive monument on multiple levels. Some tours combine a visit to Saint Mark’s Basilica with a visit to the nearby Doge’s Palace, so this can be a great way to see two of Venice’s top attractions. However you choose to visit it, Saint Mark’s Basilica is sure to be a stunning highlight of your trip to Venice.