St. Mark’s Basilica is one of the most famous landmarks of Venice, Italy, and it is considered one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in the world. The basilica is located in the heart of Venice’s historic center, next to the Doge’s Palace, and it is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Visiting St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice is an experience that should not be missed. So, Plan your visit to St Mark’s Basilica which is known as a symbol of the Venetian Republic’s power and wealth during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
History of St. Mark’s Basilica
The St. Mark’s Basilica was originally built in the 9th century to house the relics of St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice. The construction of the basilica was commissioned by Doge Giustiniano Participazio in 828 AD, after the remains of St. Mark were smuggled from Alexandria, Egypt, to Venice. The basilica was built on the site of an earlier church, which had been destroyed in a fire.
The original basilica was a small, simple building, but it gradually expanded and embellished over the centuries. In the 11th century, Doge Domenico Contarini commissioned a major renovation of the basilica, which included the addition of the five domes that are now one of the basilica’s most distinctive features. In the 12th century, the basilica was further expanded, and the famous mosaics that cover the interior walls were added. The mosaics depict scenes from the Bible and from the life of St. Mark. They are considered some of the finest examples of Byzantine art in the world.
During the Renaissance, the basilica was further embellished with marble facades and sculptures. The works of art that adorn the interior and exterior of the basilica were created by some of the greatest artists of their time, including Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese.
The architecture of St. Mark’s Basilica
The basilica is a unique example of Byzantine architecture in Italy. The exterior of the basilica is characterized by its domes, which are covered in gold leaf and topped with crosses. The five domes are arranged in a Greek cross plan, with a central dome and four smaller domes at the corners.
The interior of the basilica is equally stunning. The walls and ceilings are covered in mosaics that depict scenes from the Bible and from the life of St. Mark. The mosaics are made of thousands of tiny pieces of glass and gold leaf, and they are arranged in intricate patterns that create a shimmering effect. The floor of the basilica is also a work of art. It is made of marble slabs that are arranged in geometric patterns. The floor is so beautiful that visitors are required to wear special slippers over their shoes to protect it.
Artworks of St. Mark’s Basilica
The basilica is home to many priceless works of art. One of the most famous is the Pala d’Oro, a gold altarpiece that was created in the 10th century. The Pala d’Oro is decorated with thousands of precious stones and enamel work, and it is considered one of the finest examples of Byzantine goldsmithing in the world. Another famous work of art in the basilica is the bronze horses that sit on the balcony above the main entrance. The horses were originally part of a chariot race sculpture in Constantinople, but they were brought to Venice in the 13th century as a trophy of war. The basilica is also home to many important paintings. One of the most famous is Tintoretto’s “The Last Supper,” which hangs in the sacristy. The painting is a masterpiece of Renaissance art, and it is considered one of the most important works in the basilica.
Art and Decorations
In addition to the mosaics, St. Mark’s Basilica is home to several important works of art and decorations. The Pala d’Oro is a gold altarpiece that was created in the 10th century and is decorated with thousands of precious stones and enamel work. The Pala d’Oro is considered one of the finest examples of Byzantine goldsmithing in the world.
The basilica also features several important statues, including the famous bronze horses that sit on the balcony above the main entrance. These horses were originally part of a chariot race sculpture in Constantinople and were brought to Venice in the 13th century as a trophy of war. Other notable statues include the statue of St. Mark and the statue of the archangel Gabriel.