Located on Piazza San Marco is St Mark's Basilica, the most beautiful medieval cathedral in Venice. The original cathedral building was built in 828 next to the Doge's Palace. It was burned down in a rebellion that happened in 976. St Mark's Basilica went through several renovations in certain periods before it completed its final renovations in the 13th Century that not only featuring its original gilded ornaments, mozaics and facades, but also several newer domes were added. Up until today, St Mark's Basilica have enchanted thousand eyes with its brilliant facades, stonework arches, especially when the sun starts setting and its golden rays falling on the glimmering golden mozaics.
6 Enchanting Things to See in St Mark's Basilica
1. Apostles With The Madonna
Head to the inner chamber of St Mark's Basilica cathedral to view the most beautiful and also the oldest piece of mozaic called Apostles with the Madonna. The mozaics art is located inside the vestibule by the main door and it has been put on display for more than 950 years. Look up at the ceilings and you'll see collections of mozaics made with 24-carat gold leaf which represented the divine light.
2. Saint Mark's Cupolas
Delve deeper inside the church proper where you can see five striking golden domes. Those are called Saint Mark's Cupolas, and each dome were decorated in Byzantine mozaics originated from the 11th to the 13th Centuries. The Creation Cupola is located in the narthex, the Pentecost Cupola is located in the western dome. It also feature a cupola depicting the life of Saint John in the northern dome, and the life of Saint Leonard, Saint Nicholas, Blaise, and Clement in the Southern dome. the Ascension Cupola is the central dome decorated with painting of holy angels swirling around the figure of Christ as the central figure as he hovers among the stars. The Prophet Cupola is the most interesting cupolas of all since it's also a place where the remains of Saint Mark was kept inside a sarcophagus.
3. Pala d'Oro
Pala d'Oro will makes even the tallest and luxurious modern towers look like an ordinary steel tower. Afterall, this is the only golden altarpiece in the world encrusted with staggering 2000 gemstones, including emeralds, amethysts, sapphires, rubies, and pearls. It was commisioned in 976 and take years to complete, though finally it reached completion in 1342. The altarpiece feature the story of Christ's life, it also included plaques depicting other renowned Biblical figures such as Empress Irene, the Virgin Mary, and Doge Ordelaffo Falier.
4. The Baptistery
Just in the right side of the cathedral's aisle is a highly artistic ornamented Baptistery. The structure was built in the 14th Century, and you can find stunning mozaics. You can find depictions of the Christ's childhood and also the life of John the Baptist in some of the mozaics.
5. The Treasury
Head to the Tesoro or Treasury located just between St Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace to see some of the most beautiful pieces obtained by St Mark's Basilica thoroghout years. The Treasury contain various historical and religious relics and artefacts, some of them are treasures brought from the Crusades, stunning artworks made during Byzantine, Western and Islamic Era in Europe. You can also view many antique artefacts originated from the Early Middle Ages such as two amphorae handles in form of animals made by a precious agate stone. There are also chalices and ornamented patens forged by Byzantine goldsmiths, the throne-reliquary of St. Mark and many more!
6. Museu di San Marco
Located in the upstairs by the porch of St Mark's Basilica is the Museo di San Marco. The museum is a home to many church treasures, range from Persian carpets, mozaics fragments, tapestries, including the main highlight Quadriga of St Mark's. The Quadriga of St Mark's is four bronze horses taken from Constantinople to Paris by Napoleon before it was escorted back to the Basillica.
How to Get Tickets?
There's no admission fees needed to enter and admire at the beauty of St Mark's Basilica. But should pay for separated admission fees if you're going to visit Pala D'Oro, Tesoro, and Museu di San Marco though. Entering Pala D'Oro will costs you €2 or USD 234. Tesoro and Museu di San Marco will cost you €3 or 3.51 for admission fee.
How To Get Around?
All attractions inside and around St Mark's Basilica is reachable within walking distance. Museu di San Marco and Tesoro are accessible from within the church.
What Should I Wear?
St. Mark's Basilica is a sacred religious site in Venice, so all tourists are expected to dress modestly. Pants are allowed though you should keep it beneath the knee-length. Pick tops that don't reveal your shoulders and cleavages. Casual T-Shirts are the best options. Though you can also wear a jacket to cover your tanktop, and you can take it off once you get out of the church.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit St. Mark's Basilica is between 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM when you'll get to gush at spectacular view of all golden mozaics being lit. You might even get to notice smaller details you won't be able to spot outside the time.
Will I Need a Guide?
A guided tour is held in St Mark's Basilica and we recommend you to take it! They will tell you meanings and stories behind each mozaic.
How To Get There?
St Mark's Basilica is about 40 minutes walk fro Piazalle Roma, though you can make the journey shorter by taking Direct Water Bus Line 1, 2, and 51.
Bringing binoculars might be a very great help, especially to admire the details inside the Basilica, as you are not permitted to take any kind of photos inside.Please also note that the interior in St Mark's Basilica is only illuminated from 11:30 am untuk 12:45 pm on weekdays, and during liturgical ceremony on Sundays and holidays. Plan your trip around these times to see when the mosaics and carvings looking more beautiful with illumination.