Saint Marks Basilica
Things to Do in Venice
Image courtesy of Deposit Photos
In about 1063, a group of Venetian statesmen and religious leaders decided to build a cathedral on the existing grounds of an even older church, the plan being to house and honour the remains of the saint, Mark the Evangelist; the original building became the crypt of the new, magnificent basilica. Erected over a number of years (the gold mosaic floor alone took centuries), by a range of local craftsmen, the cathedral is attached to the adjacent Doge’s Palace and was originally its chapel.
Saint Mark (San Marco in Italian) is the patron saint of Venice, and the cathedral is now home to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. Designed and built in the Italian-Byzantine style, St. Mark’s is nicknamed Chiesa d’Oro, Church of Gold, thanks to its extensive use of gold within its incredible details.
Thanks to rising waters in the mid-1500s, the crypt was closed off and raised to prevent future flooding, during which time the wooden box containing the remains of Saint Mark was moved from its underground sarcophagus and re-situated under the altar.
Visitors do not have to pay admission to Saint Mark’s in general, but specific parts of the building can only be entered by paying a fee; these funds go toward the endless restoration and upkeep of the basilica, one of the most famous churches in the world. If you go there, please remember that it remains a functioning place of worship and be respectfully quiet.