The St Mark’s Basilica is the most famous in Venice.

It is located on the homonymous square and it is one of the best-known examples of the Byzantine architecture.

Its history is really ancient.

It started in the year of 828, when the relics of St Mark were stolen and brought from Alexandria to Venice. A relic is a personal object or a physical remain of a saint who is preserved for purposes of veneration. In this case the relic was the body of St Mark.

At the time, the relics could serve as powerful social and economic unifiers, attracting pilgrims and merchants. Thus, all relics were welcomed when they arrived in Venice.

The fact that those relics belong to St Mark was decisive for their good reception. He was the saint who had evangelized the region, being its patron saint. Over the years, the Basilica was destructed by 2 fires, having undergone several reconstructions after those. In one of those fires, the relics of St Mark were deemed lost. But the legend says that a couple of years later the saint revealed the location of his remains by extending an arm from a pillar…

What we see today is the third church built in the very same place.

The building of the third and last Basilica started in 1063, using old foundations and walls. Since that year, it has been changed, extended, covered with marble and mosaics, decorated with columns and statues.

All of those changes that took place over the centuries are deeply associated with political events. One of the most important factors was the 4th Crusade, which established contact with the Eastern architecture of Constantinople. It was during the sack of this city that the Crusaders brought the famous 4 gilt horses, whose replicas (made of fiberglass) can be currently seen on the Basilica’s terrace.

On the outside we should have a proper look over the whole façade, besides the horses. All the marble, the columns, the mosaics that constitute the portals, the portrait of the tetrarchs – all these are gorgeous. Most of them were brought from the Eastern world.

But the most popular image of the Basilica is its interior. There are more than 8000 m2 of walls, vaults and domes covered by mosaics, most of them made of gold. Take a close look at all these details, such as the pavement, the huge gold plate or the stunning altar.

The dim light which is able to enter the Basilica makes the golden details stand out, giving this place a massive beauty.

It is a church with several centuries of history. An imperative site in Venice, located in the beautiful St Mark’s Square. One cannot simply miss it!

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