Basilica of St. Mark

Basilica of St. Mark

Venice is full of the best, as the Basilica of St. Mark in the square of the same name declares. It is the most famous example of sacred Byzantine architecture on the European continent.

The basilica, completed in 1092, is nicknamed the "Temple of Gold" for its flamboyant façade of gold mosaics, which is further emphasised by the richly decorated interior. St Mark's Basilica is one of the most important monuments in Italy.

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The origins of the Basilica

St Mark's Church was built here in 828-832 after Venetian merchants in Alexandria, Egypt, seized the remains of St Mark and buried them in the newly built church. Since then, St Mark the Evangelist has been considered the patron saint of Venice.

The church was burnt down in 976 during a revolt and rebuilt in 1063-1094 as a magnificent basilica inspired by the style of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Byzantine Constantinople.

Architecture and form of the basilica

A significant part of the present basilica actually dates back to 1094, but during the 14th century a minor reconstruction with Gothic elements was carried out and in 1801 the church was rebuilt in Baroque style. Even so, it still bears much of the original Romanesque-Byzantine style that defines the face of the basilica to this day.

The church stands on the plan of an isosceles cross as a three-aisled church. The distinctive landmark is the roof made up of five massive domes.

The lower floor of the basilica consists of 5 arches with rich decoration of mosaics, statues and ancient columns, while the entrance to the church is guarded by a massive bronze gate.

The overall dimensions of the basilica are an impressive 77 metres in length, 63 metres in width and 45 metres in height.

The incredible interior will dazzle you

If you find the basilica beautiful and beautifully decorated on the outside, then the interior will take your breath away. It boasts extremely rich sculptural, painterly and, above all, mosaic decoration. The walls and ceilings of the basilica are decorated with mosaics made of coloured blocks covering an area of over 4,200 square metres! Most of the mosaics date back to the 13th century.

The most important part of the basilica's furnishings, however, is a gilded section of the 12th-century high altar (modified in the 14th century) called the Pala d'Oro.

To visit the altar of the Pala d'Oro, you must pay a separate entrance fee 5 eur.

Visit the gallery

On the first floor of the basilica you can visit a small museum after paying a fee 7 eur.

As part of the museum entrance fee, you can visit the basilica's outdoor terrace, which offers a beautiful panoramic view of St Mark's Square.

St. Mark's Bell Tower

The Basilica is also home to the most visible symbol of Venice, the Bell Tower of St. Mark, which rises to a height of 98 metres. The bell tower was not built until more than 500 years after the completion of the church itself (1514), and since it lies outside the main building of the basilica, we have prepared a detailed mini-guide for it.

Admission and opening hours

The Basilica is one of Italy's most important monuments, so be prepared to queue for up to an hour to enter in high season. The usual waiting time outside of the weekend is between 20 and 30 minutes.

However, you have the option of booking online on the official website There is a special and significantly shorter queue for online ticket holders (usually a maximum of 10 minutes).

For the tourist public, the basilica is open from 9:30-17:15 (last entry 16:45). On Sundays, entry is only from 14:00 except for the small St. Mark's Museum, which is also open from 9:30 on Sundays.

Admission to the Basilica is the same for all ages except for children under 6, for whom it is free:

Price on site Online booking
Basilica only 3 eur 6 eur
Basilica + Pala d'Oro 8 eur 12 eur
Basilica + St. Mark's Museum + balcony 7 eur 15 eur
All together 15 eur 20 eur

All on-site fees can be paid in cash and by credit card.

For the faithful, entry is free from the north side of the basilica (entrance Porta dei Fiori), however, you will not have the chance to see the golden altar of the Pala d'Oro or the main nave of the basilica up close.

Official website:

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