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

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Top sights in Venice

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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

Overall rating
4.4 / 5
based on 14,667 reviews

Both sites are absolutely incredible! Basilica is a must see

My sister and I were expecting good things from this tour, but it was far far better than that! We easily found the meeting place. Everyone gets a headphone set so you can always hear your guide, and ours was called Rosanna. She was so lovely, upbeat, friendly, and funny. We did the Basilica first and we were lucky to be in there when it was illuminated and it was absolutely beautiful (it is usually only illuminated for mass and other than that for one hour a day). The Basilica also hosts an amazing artwork entirely made of gold and just under 2,000 jewels. This was information provided by Rosanna, and a lot of what made this tour good was all the facts she told us. It would not have been half as amazing without context. Then we did the Doges Palace where, as part of this tour, you actually walk inside and along the Bridge of Sighs, which we weren't expecting! Also the Doges Palace has the largest canvas artwork in the world, which was astounding to see. Two very happy customers!

Wonderful tour and excellent guide for Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s

The combination of Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Basilica after hours made for a wonderful tour. It had started cooling off and there crowds had mostly left so we loved it. Our guide Pam was so good - she was very knowledgeable about Venetian history and these two historic places. And she was very charming. I highly recommend this tour. The walking is moderate and there are some stairs but not a lot. And the stairs were more half-flights at a time which made them easy to get past. And the views from Doge’s are magnificent. St Mark’s is breathtaking with the gold ceiling and we practically had the place to ourselves.

Great tour, very nice guide, great historical information and views.

A great tour with a very nice guide. She gave us a lot of historical information and wonderful insides of the dome including a great view from the terrace of the dome on clock tour and Markus place. Also the tour through the palace was amazing. Even for my 13 year old daughter it was very exciting, although it was a 3 hours tour!

St. Mark's Bell Tower: Skip-the-Line Admission Ticket Reviewed by

Incredibly informative tour providing valuable historical insights!

Our guide Francesca was fantastic. She offered wonderful insights into both the building histories as well as Venetian. She maneuvered our group of 20 seamlessly through Summer tourist crowds. I strongly recommend the earlier morning tours as the crowds in the square multiplied over our 3 hour tour.

Best Guide ever! Oile was awesome! Very Knowledgable and attentive

We are so glad we go a Guide for the Basilica. Olie was fantastic. we learnt so much and our kids aged 10 and 14 were inthralled. She really catered to them well. it was a small group, 8 of us in total which was really wonderful. I would highly recommend this tour.

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