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Saturday, January 2, 2010

St Mark's Basilica . . .ITALY

The glittering façade of St Mark’s Basilicadominates the vast expanse of St Mark’s Square and stands as a potent symbol of Venice’s status as city state and maritime power in the late Medieval period. The basilica, which was consecrated in 1094, is the third church to be built on the site since the body of St Mark, the city’s patron saint, was reputedly brought here to be buried in AD 828. The exotic Byzantine architecture of the basilica reflects the Venetian lagoon’s strong trading links with the Orient and the exterior is decorated with marble brought back after the Venetian conquest of Constantinople in 1204; the five vaulted domes which form the roof are set in the shape of a Greek cross. The interior is just as magnificent, with gold mosaics covering the ceilings and walls, and marble floors. There are further displays of riches brought back from foreign crusades in the Tesoro (treasury), whilst the Pala D’Oro (Golden Altarpiece) is an ornate altar screen in a gilded frame with enamel panels made in Byzantium. Visitors can enter the Gallerie to see the four magnificent Horses of St Mark that were brought from the hippodrome in Constantinople in the 13th century, symbolising Venice's links with Byzantium. It is also possible to climb up to theLoggia (veranda) on the front of the basilica for views over the lagoon and the surrounding islands, or to ascend the nearby Campanile (bell tower) which, at 99m (272ft), is the tallest building in Venice.

Contact Addresses

Basilica di San Marco, Piazza San Marco, 30124 Venice, Italy
Tel: (041) 522 5205
or 522 5697