St. Mark's Basilica is also famed as the Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark. It is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Patriarchate of Venice and has served as the main location of the Patriarch of Venice since 1807. It was built to honor the city's patron saint, Mark the Evangelist. It now houses some of his remains.
This church resides on the eastern end of Saint Mark's Square, near the Doge's Palace. It was once the spiritual and political heart of the Venetian Republic. Before the republic's downfall in 1797, it served as the Doge's chapel and was under his authority.
Besides Middle Byzantine and Romanesque styles, Islamic and Gothic additions may be seen in the building's architecture. Brick exteriors and inner walls were eventually adorned with priceless stones and rare marbles to demonstrate the republic's prosperity and authority. A lengthy and convoluted process led to the construction of three visible façades.
How to explore the Basilica di San Marco?
- One of two pillars from the Church of St. Polyeuctus may be seen on the western façade. This façade also has a statue of the 'Four Tetrarchs,' which may have come from the Philadelphian and narrow Romanesque bands. In addition, a mosaic depicts the journey of the saint's body from Egypt to Venice, which was revered by the Doge and eventually buried in the Basilica.
- The northern façade’s building depicts the life of the four founding Latin Doctors of the Church - Jerome, Augustine, Ambrose, and Gregory the Great. Allegorical figures atop the lunettes represent the virtues of frugality, temperance, faith, and charity.
- The so-called pillars of Acre, a monument of the four tetrarchs set into the outside wall of the treasury, and the porphyry imperial head are only some rare marbles, treasures, and trophies that adorn the southern façade. The mosaic in the foyer of this façade tells the story of how St. Mark's bones were brought from Alexandria, Egypt, to Venice.
- Holy Apostles Church was situated beneath the central dome, whose altar was pierced with windows. The central dome that rises on quadripartite (four-legged) piers is a beautiful sight to behold.
- Visit the Chancel Church, whose altar is ornate of Gothic style from the year 1394. Including the Virgin Mary, Saint Mark, and the Apostles, the bronze and silver Crucifix crowns the altar structure.
- The Saint Peter-dedicated choir chapel is located on the northern side. Visit this church to know more about the relics of his life that are memorialized in the mosaics.