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

The perfect tour: most interesting and the 3h. passed without knowing

Next to the most professional guidance by guide Nico (Italian, but with an accent-free English) sharing a lot of interesting information on the history of the city, San Marco Square & Basilica and the Doge's Palace which was absolutely top, also the "skip the line"-option is an absolute must.

Great way to see famous landmarks of Venice

Our guide was amazing - English was very good and her knowledge and the way she interacted with everyone was fantastic

Great insights and overviews of both places

Hazel’s descriptions were very interesting and insightful. She was very knowledgeable about so many aspects and helped me understand the history of these amazing places.

Doge's Palace & St. Mark's Basilica 2-Hour Tour Reviewed by Anonymous, 05/26/2019

Well worth having the audio guide for this beautiful cathedral.

Get there early and hopefully the queue isn’t too long to get in. However it is worth it. I paid the extra 2 euros to see the golden altar and an extra 5 euros to climb to the balcony and see the museum pieces. Both worth it in my opinion. Get Your Guide has been very useful whilst on holiday. I will use this facility again.

Great tour with very knowledgeable guide.

Francesca was very knowledgeable and very pleasant and kind. We learned a lot on the tour. Wonderful experience overall!!

St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace Fast Track Tour Reviewed by Marie-Therese, 05/17/2019

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