Saint Mark's Basilica
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Saint Mark's Basilica: Tours & Tickets

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5 historical facts about Saint Mark's Basilica

Venice's most famous church is more a testament to the city's Medieval wealth and power than the teachings of Christ. Its history, however, might just be even more spectacular than its architecture! Here are five fun facts dug up from its colorful past.

It was built for the bones of Mark the Evangelist

It was built for the bones of Mark the Evangelist

The original church was built circa 832 to harbor the relics of Saint Mark, which were supposedly stolen from Alexandria by Venetian merchants!

The original was burned down to assassinate a Doge

The original was burned down to assassinate a Doge

The Doge (leader) of Venice, Pietro IV Candiano, was so unpopular by 976 that his constituents locked him in Saint Mark's and burned it to the ground!

Its nickname is the

Its nickname is the "Chiesa d'Oro"

Hardly a symbol of Christian humility, the cathedral's opulent mosaics gave rise to a nickname that has lasted since its 9th century construction – The Church of Gold!

It's decorated partly by the spoils of war

It's decorated partly by the spoils of war

The 4th Crusade didn't go quite as planned! Rather than reach Jerusalum, the Venetians instead pillaged Constantinople and stole many artifacts to adorn their cathedral.

Its mosaics cover approximately 8000 m²

Its mosaics cover approximately 8000 m²

But, unfortunately, only about a third is original! Though once maintained by a workshop of skilled mosaicists, much was simply replaced in cheap 19th-century restoration attempts.

Our insider tips

What are the opening times?

The Basilica's opening hours are from 9:45AM to 5:00PM, and on Sundays and holidays between 2:00PM and 4:00PM or 5:00PM depending on the season. Entrance to the Basilica is free, but visiting the museum, treasury, or Pala d'Oro requires paying for tickets.

What to wear?

Whether you're booking a tour or intend to visit Saint Mark's Basilica alone, be sure to dress appropriately for a place of worship! A general rule of thumb is to keep arms and legs covered (and no flip-flops!). Also note that bringing luggage in is forbidden, as is filming or taking photographs inside.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    9:45AM to 5:00PM, Sundays and Holidays 2:00PM to 4:00PM or 5:00PM, depending on season.
  • Is it expensive?
    The Basilica is free, but the museum, treasury and Pala d'Oro require admission fees.
  • Will I need a guide?
    It will definitely help. Might be worth it to check out our best-selling tours.
  • How to get there
    This attraction is within walking distance from most hotels in city center!
  • Additional information
    Bringing in luggage, filming or taking photographs inside is strictly forbidden. | It's best to keep your arms and legs covered, and no flip-flops!

What people are saying about Saint Mark's Basilica

A different perspective on St Mark's! A must see!!!

Wonderful local guide! Great knowledge and explanations! A unique perspective on this magnificent basilica!!! Hope you get the same guide as we did!!! She was just fantastic! Thank you!!

Venice: Saint Mark's Basilica After Hours Guided Tour Reviewed by a GetYourGuide customer, 11/06/2018

Excellent guide and a great way to see these two amazing sites.

This was a well organised tour with a very good guide who brought the sites to life with her commentary. Be prepared for two hours on your feet and avoid taking a large backpack if you can as you will have to hand it in to security at each site (and there may be a queue). Well worth the money.

A Fascinating Tour with an Excellent Guide

It eas east to identify the meeting point by the money exchange practically under the clock tower at St Marc’s Square. Some people baulked at the number of people gathering but soon relaxed when they realised they were being split into smaller groups depending upon the language you required. Our guide , who had a degree in french literature and was extremely knowledgeable and multi lingual, was excellent. The content was excellent and she presented with good humour too. With her we bypassed the ticket queues but you should be aware that you must still join the next queue for security checks which did not take long. The audio connection worked well throughout and she could easily be heard. She explained this was the only tour thst was permitted to sit in the basillica whilst she completed the explanation of historical events. An overall excellent tour and tour guide (sorry I can’t remember her name).

A fantastic tour with so much information shared

It was well worth booking this tour to visit these sights. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and approachable for questions. Would highly recommend.

Doge's Palace & St. Mark's Basilica 2-Hour Tour Reviewed by Jacqueline, 10/18/2018

Informative with a sense of humour added.

The best way to see the sites skipping the inevitably long lines with the added bonus of free admission to the Corer Museum. Our guide was very informative and easily understood. Good value.

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