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

Our guide made our visit successful. She was very knowledgeable.

Although we experienced Easter crowds, our guide weaved our way through the crowds so that we ended up with a very good experience in spite of the number of people.

The Grandeur of Venice: Doge's Palace & Basilica Tour Reviewed by James & Gretchen, 04/21/2019

An exceptional tour in an exceptional place with an exceptional guide!

Learning about the treasures of Venice from a native Venetian was a wonderful experience. Thank you so much to Roberta for all of her knowledge and warmth. I would highly recommend this tour.

awesome tour hosted by a very knowledgeable guide

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour. Our guide (Virginia) was very knowledgeable and was able to answer all questions asked in addition to very detailed explanations of what we were seeing. The crowds were massive and the time in St Marks Basilica is limited but it was worth the effort. The audio system worked well and we were able to hear everything our guide was explaining.

Good experience. Well organized. Excellent tour guide.

Line skipping privileges saved time. There was longer lines that we walked past. Tour guide was very knowledgeable, interesting and accommodating to questions.

Guide Hazel gave a fantastic Tour in Venice, Doge Palcace, Cathedral

Hazel has a great knowledge about the history of Venice, the history of art and structure of power in the Doge System and the Christian tradition in general and San Marco Cathedral in specific. Fabulous!

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