It started with an international robbery, and resulted in a magnificent landmark.
Saint Mark’s Basilica, officially known as Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark is located in the heart of Venice in Piazza San Marco. The original Saint Marks was ordered built by the doge (prince) of Venice in 829. Conspiring Venetian merchants smuggled out the relics of Saint Mark from Alexandria Egypt. The fable is they hid the relics in barrels of pork to avoid detection by the Muslim military. The relics were placed in Saint Marks. The original basilica was destroyed, but its current design dates to 1063. Since 1807 it plays the role as the official seat of the Patriarch of Venice.
Venice is inundated with approximately 20 million tourists a year. So after you snap pictures of the Rialto Bridge, cruise the Grand Canal, and devour more tiramisu, how can you capture a unique experience? Walks of Italy provided an answer for me.
While thousands of tourists traipse through Saint Mark’s Basilica every day, I was afforded the opportunity of spending time in the Basilica at night. With only 13 other people.
Golden, gilded mosaics dance across 8,000 square meters of vaults and cupolas. These mosaics mostly date back to the 12th century. The mosaics trace the stories of the New Testament. Too many landmarks in Venice are nearly spoiled with throngs of visitors, this visit was a unique experience. As I entered the side door, I was immediately greeted with the scintillating mosaics. I strolled in silence marveling at the towering peaks of the interior.
I entered the main, cavernous cathedral. My eyes scanned the vast room.
I walked to the elevated alter. Over the high altar is an 11th century ceremonial canopy. The altarpiece is the well-known Pala d’Oro. It is a gold panel gold embedded with gems. This masterpiece is comprised of 1,300 pearls, 300 emeralds, 300 sapphires, and 400 garnets.
If you like St Marks, check out the pictures from the Vatican.
This experience was provided gratis by Walks of Italy (just click above!). All opinions expressed are mine. If you book at tour with WOI I will earn a small commission.