Piazza and Basilica of San Marco in Venice Italy

Visit Piazza San Marco where you can find the elaborate St. Mark’s Basilica with 5 portals and magnificent mosaics. It was built in the 9th century to house the body of St. Mark. Since 1807, it has been the cathedral of Venice. The mosaics in the lunettes on the facade of the church tell the story of Saint Mark’s body.

Saint Mark’s body is stolen from Alexandria,  1660:

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Saint Mark’s body venerated by the doge (1728):Image result for body of St. Mark.mosaic venezia

Saint Mark is represented by the winged lion surmounting one of the tall 12th century granite columns in the Piazza.

The lion of San Mark on Piazzetta San Marco Venice.jpg

The figure standing on the western column is St. Theodore of Amasea, patron of the city before St Mark, who holds a spear and stands on a crocodile (to represent the dragon which he was said to have slain).

Image result for venice figure standing on the western column is St. Theodore of Amasea, patron of the city before St Mark,

Entry is free but if you don’t want to wait in line, get tickets for the Basilica San Marco at

I have been to Venice many times but the Basilica has always been under the cloak of renovation. Finally, in the Summer of 2019, I was able to witness this magnificent landmark in all her glory!

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The original 9th century Romanesque church was a shrine for the stolen remains of St. Mark the Evangelist from Alexandria. It was destroyed by fire in 967. The 30th Doge of Venice, Domenico Contarini (1041-71) commissioned builders to begin work with the help of Byzantine architects on expanding and restoring the structure. During his reign, the Venetians recaptured Zadar and parts of Dalmatia that had been lost to the Kingdom of Croatia in the previous few decades.

Doge Domenico Contarini:

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The church was finally consecrated in 1094. The collection of loot inside the Treasury was mostly acquired on countless raids abroad. It serves as an enduring reminder of Venice’s maritime prestige and supremacy over the eastern Mediterranean.

The Golden altarpiece, The Pala d’Oro (below) was thought to be first commissioned in 976 by Doge Pietro Orseolo;  made up of precious stones and several enamels depicting various saints, and in 1105 it was expanded on by Doge Ordelaffo Falier. The central panel depicts Christ in Majesty

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The Golden Altar Panel is made of gold and silver, 187 enamel plaques, and 1,927 gems. These include 526 pearls, 330 garnets, 320 emeralds, 255 sapphires, 183 amethysts, 175 agates, 75 rubies, 34 topazes, 16 carnelians, and 13 jaspers.

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The main altar area of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice Italy:

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The interior of dome of St. Mark’s Basilica:

The Basilica It was inspired by the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople, now Istanbul.


The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark, commonly known as Saint Mark’s Basilica, is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. It is the most famous of the city’s churches and one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture.

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It lies at the eastern end of the Piazza San Marco, adjacent and connected to the Doge’s Palace. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has been the city’s cathedral only since 1807, when it became the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, formerly at San Pietro di Castello.

Image result for Basilica of San Marco in Venice Italy Doge's Palace.

This enchanting city is an architectural masterpiece with domes, spires and campaniles. St. Mark’s basilica and the Doge’s Palace constitute the fulcrum of Venetian religious and civic life.

Look for The Portrait of the Four Tetrarchs; a porphyry sculpture group of four Roman emperors Diocletian, Maximillian, Galerius, and Constantius in a tight embrace to symbolize the unity of the ROman Empire. It was brought to Venice in 1256, after a vuctory against Genoa and dates from around 300 AD. These Acre Pillars can be found on corner of the façade closest to the Doge’s Palace

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The Doge’s Palace was first built in the 9th century. Work on the facade as we see it today began in 1424. At the far end is the monumental Gothic Porta della Carta (paper gateway).

Image result for Gothic Porta della Carta (paper gateway).

For 800 years, this was the residence of the Doge and the seat of government.

Saint Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) is the location of some of the major attractions in Venice including:

  1. The Campanile or Bell Tower, was originally built as a lighthouse to assist navigation in the lagoon. The Loggetta was designed by Jacopo Sansovino between 1537-1549. It has a three arch arcade decorated in marble and bronze with a beautiful carved gate on the front end of the bell tower.

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The bell tower was built in the 12th century and collapsed in 1902 and rebuilt again in 1912.

Visitors can be whisked by elevator to the top of St. Mark’s Campanile or bell tower.  Watch this video to see the view from the top.

Image result for Basilica of San Marco in Venice Campanile Bell Tower and the Clock Tower,

2. The Clock tower or Torre dell’Orologio

The Clock Tower is one of the most famous architectural landmarks in Venice, standing over an arch that leads into what is the main shopping street of the city, the old Merceria.


Listen to The Moors stike the bell. The two giant statues in bronze (traditionally known as “The Moors” because of the patina on the metal) were cast in 1497 by Ambrogio della Ancore.



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3. The Palazzo Ducale http://palazzoducale.visitmuve.it

The Doge’s Palace is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. The Doge’s Palace is an impressive structure composed of layers of building elements and ornamentation, from its 14th and 15th century. The Doge’s Palace housed not only the Doge’s apartments, the seat of the government and the city’s courtrooms, but also a jail.


Image result for Basilica of San Marco in Venice the The Palazzo Ducale

4. The Correr Museum

The design and initial building work on the Napoleonic Wing dates from the years when Venice was part of the Kingdom of Italy (1806-1814) when Napoleon was sovereign and his stepson, Eugene de Beauharnais, was Viceroy.

Visita il Museo Correr

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Image result for Basilica of San Marco in Venice the The Correr Museum


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5. Visit the Sansovino Library; The Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (English: National Library of St Mark) is a public library founded in 1468 as the library of the Republic of Venice.

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It is one of the earliest surviving public libraries and repositories for manuscripts in Italy and holds one of the greatest collections of classical texts in the world.

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6. Visit the original horses in St. Mark’s Basilica. The ones outside are replicas. Although the horses are often described as bronzes; in  they were made with is 96.67% copper. When they came to Venice in 1254 they were placed on the front façade of the basilica, in pairs above the central portal. The horses were taken down and placed inside the church in the 1980s and replaced with replicas.

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7. Visit the Piazzetta dei Leoncini with the 2 small lions in red marble (1722).

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To learn more about Venice check out my Vino Con Vista Travel Guides on Amazon.com.




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