In the heart of the city of canals is the Basilica of Saint Mark in Venice, a wonderful temple. Since its construction began in the 11th century, it has been the center of public and religious life in the city. Are you passing through Venice and want to visit it? Take a look at our guide!
Brief history of Basilica of San Marco in Venice
The construction of the basilica was proposed in the year 828 to house some supposed relics of the evangelist Saint Mark. However, a fire that occurred in the year 975 destroyed the church, and its reconstruction began in the 11th century.
Specific, in the year 1063 the workers and architects of Constantinople approached Venice to rebuild it, following the Byzantine style. Ten years later the building was finished. However, during the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries it underwent some modifications.
Finally, in 1807 it became the city’s cathedral. Thanks to a law of the Republic of Venice that forced merchants to give gifts to the basilica, has about 4000 m² of impeccable mosaics.
“Look twice to see what’s fair. Don’t look more than once to see the beautiful.”
-Henry F. Amiel-
Guide to the Basilica of San Marco
Now that we know the history of the basilica, it is time to organize everything to have it ready for our visit. Follow our list of essentials to enjoy it as best as possible!
1. How to get to Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice
The Basilica of San Marco is located in the square of the same name and very close to the Ducal Palace. The best way to get there is to walk, since it is located in the center of the city.
From the train station the journey is half an hour walking, in which you will enjoy dreamlike views. You can also do it by vaporetto, the quintessential means of public transport in Venice: a boat that travels through the city’s canals. Taking the vaporetto from route 1, you arrive directly at St. Mark’s Square.
2. Hours and tickets
Visiting hours vary depending on the season of the year. Between the months of November and March, the hours are from Monday to Saturday from 9:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. And on Sundays and holidays from 2 to 4 in the afternoon. Between March and October, the high season, the hours are similar. From Monday to Saturday the same schedule is maintained, and on Sundays and holidays an hour more, until 5 in the afternoon.
The entrance to the Basilica of San Marco in Venice is free, unless you want to visit the museum, the Pala de Oro or the treasure of San Marcos, which cost 5, 2 and 3 euros, respectively.
3. What to visit inside the basilica
As admission is free, it is common to have to wait in long lines to enter. But first, we advise you to admire the appearance of the basilica from the outside. And once inside stop to admire the mosaics, the statue of Saint Mark, and the domes of Alexandria and the Ascension (which you can see during the visit to the museum).
Nevertheless, one of the most outstanding parts are the horses of San Marcos. There are four sculptures of horses that are located in the upper part of the central porch. Their origin is unknown, but they are known to be from the classical period (Roman or Greek). They were in the hippodrome of Constantinople and were part of the spoils of one of the crusades.
The same goes for the treasure of Saint Mark, which was obtained after the sack of Constantinople during the end of the Byzantine period. Finally, the Pala de Oro, is an altarpiece of precious stones from the medieval period.
4. Access rules
As it is a place of worship, there are some rules that must be followed if you want to visit the basilica. You can not enter with a backpackbut you can leave it for free at some lockers on the left side of the basilica, on Calle San Basso.
And as in other places of worship, it is necessary to enter with appropriate clothing. It is not allowed to enter with suspenders or with any type of sleeveless garment. Shorts or sandals are also not allowed. Therefore, it is recommended to bring a jacket, although layers are left at the entrance to cover the body.
Otherwise, the use of cameras is not allowed, Neither for photos nor for video. Similarly, it is forbidden to speak loudly during the visit or disturb other visitors.
The visit to the Basilica of Saint Mark in Venice will make you fall in love with the city, along with the rest of the monuments and its wonderful canals. Venice is one of the most beautiful and special places in Italy, and it is waiting for you to discover it. What are you waiting for?