The Basilica di San Marco in Venice, also known as Saint Mark’s Basilica, will make quite an impression on you, owing to both its historic wealth and the magnificent façade and beautiful interiors.

Basilica-di-San-Marco-VeniceFlickr/Tracy

It is the years of hard workmanship, of noted Italian and European artists, which makes the Basilica so impressive. The scenes from the Old and the New Testament and the tales of St. Marco have been beautifully highlighted using Byzantine architecture in making the great mosaics. You can see precious works of art, originating from places far away from Venice, adding beauty to the Basilica. This showed the effort of the people of Venice to enrich it. An ethereal environment is witnessed when you see light falling on the golden mosaics, which adds further beauty to the entire space.

The history of the Basilica is quite engrossing. The merchants of Venice stole the relics of Saint Mark and hid them under layers of pork to smuggle them without facing trouble from the Muslim guards in Alexandria, Egypt. The thirteenth century mosaic at a door far left of the front entrance itself will tell you the tale. The relics were initially given a temporary shelter in the Doge’s Palace and an appropriate church was built in the beginning of the second century. The church’s pivotal structure still remains the same but there have been modifications in the decorations.

The church is decorated with the combination of Gothic, Romanesque and Byzantine art. You could see instances of each of these art forms throughout the church, for instance the decorations you see on the top of the façade are clearly Gothic in origin. The Translation of the body of St. Mark, that can be seen here, is the oldest exterior mosaic dating back to the thirteenth century.

One can also see the Egyptian porphyry structures known as the “tetrarchs”. While enjoying the mesmerizing sight of the interiors of the church, the spectacular gilded mosaics proclaiming the message of Christian salvation is a treat to watch. There is a red medallion on the floor of the porch that marks the place of reconciliation between Barbarossa, the holy Roman Emperor and Pope Alexander III. The altar piece, which shows the Byzantine roots of the church, is called Pala d’Oro (Golden pall). There are also the four life sized bronze structures of the horses of Saint Mark as well as the Tersoso or treasury that flaunts the collection of relics and iconic ornaments gathered over the years.

The Basilica di San Marco is an impressive work of art and makes for a magnificent sight, and a visit to Venice is incomplete without its tour.

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