St Mark’s Basilica, Venice

It’s Travel Tuesday! A theme I have long watched and enjoyed, without getting my hands dirty. But since we visited so many beautiful locations on our honeymoon, I thought I would share some pictures this #TravelTuesday.


The St Mark’s Basilica (Church of Saint Mark) is situated on Venice’s principal piazza, St Mark’s square. The last time we visited Venice they were renovating the church’s frescoes so we were deterred from visiting, due to the long lines and fear of missing what was being covered by scaffolding. At the time we didn’t know we would return to Venice, so when we decided to pop in on honeymoon, it was a ‘must do’ on our list.

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Saint Mark’s Basilica is one of Venice’s most famous landmarks due to its historical significance. The first version of the church was built in 832 (that’s 1184 years ago) but it was burnt down. The second version was build in 978 (that’s 1038 years ago), but isn’t the version we see today. The third version (this version) was built from 1063 (that’s 953 years ago) and continued to be formed over the next century. It’s on the east end of St Mark’s square – a village square that Napoleon used to call the ‘drawing board’ of Europe due to it being the social, political and religious center of Venice.

Saint Mark's Basilica


We were lucky on the day we visited as the queue wasn’t very long. We stood for about 15 minutes and popped inside. Visitors are allowed on the roof for a small fee, but we decided to go inside first.

The entrance of the cathedral is highly decorated with representations of saints and sinners (my term). This includes scenes from the Life of Christ and Last Judgement. There are angels with golden wings, a golden lion and marble saints carved into the arches of the church. The marble pillars hold up the arch ways that house the biblical scenes. The bronze horses are actually replicas of the horses initially created in 12th century. The originals were stolen from Venice, but later returned and now live in a museum next door. The door has 6 archways within archways, adding to the grand presentation of the church.

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While the exterior of St Mark’s is impressive, the interior is even more so. The large dome is decorated with saints while surrounded by 4 tunnels (think this is a Greek ceiling). The main done has a number of windows which let the natural light in, highlighting the ceiling, which is covered in little gold mosaics. It’s not just a wall painted in gold, it’s made up of thousands and thousands of tiny gold tiles. Who knew the grey building outside has such glory on the inside?! The interior of St Mark’s is EXQUISITE!

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The church is separated by a Rood screen (like a wooden room divider) which parts the main space (where the service would be) and the more intimate, holy space where the ceremony would begin from.

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The ceiling is remarkable; your neck gets uncomfortable from looking up, but you just can’t look away when you see the hours of hard work, craft and beauty put into these ceilings. They tell a story of a time gone by, and you can really feel the magic in the room – even if you aren’t religious like myself.



For an extra 2 Euros, you could go through to an extra part at the back of the altar. This is where we found the Pala d’Oro altarpiece (Golden cloth), which was first commissioned in 976. It’s made up of precious stones and metals including pearls, sapphires, emeralds, rubies, garnets, amethysts, etc. It’s pretty incredible to see in real life and we even wondered if we were meant to be there! But we paid and went through a turnstile so we were! I wonder about the lives of the people who created these things. The church was so powerful back in the day and I wondered if the people who made these timeless pieces were happy and respected…

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The floor of St Mark’s is also wonderful! Made in the 12th century it is filled with angular swirling tiles, like a beautiful, patchwork like tiles. We bought a fridge magnet of the tiled floors – made in China of course, arg! But a happy reminder of the details of the church.

Silence is requested in the church but often people talk and have no regard for others around them, it’s quite fascinating being in Europe where I feel we hold our values quite close to, but South Africans are way more respectful in public spaces.

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Once we came out, the queues were getting bigger so we skipped going to the roof. The Saint Mark’s Basilica is beautiful and well worth visiting. I recommend going early in the morning so that you can beat the lunch time traffic. Also, they let more and more people in, but you don’t have to get out! So it just gets fuller and fuller. Therefore, the earlier, the better. It’s free to enter.

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