St. Mark’s Basilica, also known as St. Mark’s Basilica, is the cathedral church of the Catholic Patriarchate of Venice. It replaced the Basilica of San Pietro di Castello as the seat of the Patriarch of Venice in 1807. It is devoted to and houses the remains of Saint Mark the Evangelist, the city’s patron saint.
The church is adjacent to the Doge’s Palace and is positioned on the eastern end of Saint Mark’s Square, the historic political and ecclesiastical center of the Republic of Venice. Before the collapse of the republic in 1797, it was the Doge’s chapel and was subject to his jurisdiction, with the permission of the Pope.
About St. Mark’s Basilica
The current edifice is the third church, which was most likely built in 1063 to reflect Venice’s developing civic consciousness and pride. Its model, like the two previous churches, was the sixth-century cathedral of the Sacred Apostles in Constantinople, however, modifications were made to adapt the design to the physical constraints of the site and to fulfill the special demands of Venetian state rituals.
There are also Middle-Byzantine, Romanesque, and Islamic influences, as well as Gothic features that were later integrated. The ancient brick façades and inner walls were adorned throughout time with valuable stones and rare marbles to represent the republic’s riches and authority, exclusively in the thirteenth century.
Numerous columns, reliefs, and figures were plundered from Constantinople’s churches, palaces, and public tombs as an effect of the Venetian sharing in the Fourth Crusade. The four antique bronze horses that were conspicuously displayed over the entrance were among the looted artifacts brought back to Venice.
The domes, vaults, and top walls were gradually covered with gold-ground mosaics representing saints, prophets, and biblical themes. Many of these mosaics were later restored or rebuilt as artistic preferences evolved and broken mosaics needed to be replaced, resulting in mosaics that reflect eight centuries of creative styles.
Some of the ruling class come from established Byzantine likenesses and are masterworks of Medieval skill; possible choices are established basic illustrations fashioned by conspicuous Renaissance inventors from Venice and Paolo Uccello, Florence, Tintoretto, containing Paolo Veronese, Titian, and Andrea del Castagno.
History of St Mark’s Basilica
Participazio St Mark’s Basilica (c. 829–976)
The translation, or removal of Saint Mark’s body from Alexandria, Egypt, by two Venetian merchants and transport to Venice in 828/829, is described in several medieval chronicles. According to the Chronicon Venetum, the relics of Saint Mark were first housed in a corner tower of the castrum, the fortified palace of the Doge and seat of government located in the current location of the Doge’s Palace.
In his will, Doge Giustiniano Participazio directed that his wife and his younger brother and successor Giovanni build a cathedral dedicated to Saint Mark, where the relics would eventually be kept. Giustiniano also stated that the new church will be constructed between the castrum and the Church of Saint Theodore to the north.
Orseolo St Mark’s Basilica (976–c. 1063)
During the popular rebellion against Doge Pietro IV Candiano in 976, the fire that furious masses had lit to remove the Doge from the castrum spread to the neighboring church, severely damaging the Participazio church.
Although the edifice was not fully destroyed, it was damaged to the extent that Candiano’s successor, Pietro I Orseolo, had to gather in the church of San Pietro di Castello instead. Within two years, the church was remade cost at the price of the Orseolo family, indicating that the real damage was little.
Most likely, the inflexible elements had existed ate, but the divider and supports waited predominantly undamaged. Nothing sure is famous of the image of the Orseolo faith. But likely the short event of the rebuilding, it is apparent that work was restricted to repairing damage accompanying little change.
Contarini St Mark’s Basilica (c. 1063–present)
Civic pride experienced many Italian metropolises in the intervening-eleventh century to start establishing or repairing their cathedrals on an impressive scale. Venice was likewise concerned in professed allure increasing monetary money and capacity, and perhaps in 1063, under Doge Domenico I Contarini, St Mark’s was considerably remodeled and increased to the magnitude that the happening form arose completely new.
The northerly transept was extended, likely by including the south sideways center of the pope’s jurisdiction of Saint Theodore. Similarly, in the south transept was lengthened, possibly by mixing a corner tower of the castrum. Most considerably, the stiff domes were remodeled in blocks.
This necessary invigorating the divider and piers in consideration of support the new weighty cask vaults, that in proper sequence were supported by arcades ahead the parts of the northerly, in the south, and westerly cross-arms. The vaults of the eastward cross-arm were situated putting alone arches that were too dressed to separate the sanctuary from the collection chapels in the sideways apses.
In front of the situation or toward the west façade, a small room for arrivals was buxom. To adapt the altitude of the existent excellent introduction, the overreaching order of the new small room for arrivals had expected to stop in agreement to the gateway, so the founding false accusation above that was later unlocked to the interior of the pope’s jurisdiction.
The compartment was increased to the orient, and the extreme pedestal was proposed from under the main roof to the sanctuary, which was bred, situated a network of pillars and vaults in the fundamental cell. By 1071, work had advanced far enough that the initiation of Doge Domenico Selvo manages to happen in the bare religion
Work on the interior started under Selvo the one calm fine alabaster and rocks for the decorating of the pope’s jurisdiction and independently financed the collage embellishment, bringing in a master mosaicist from Constantinople. The Pala d’Oro, orderly from Constantinople in 1102, was equipped on the extreme pedestal in 1105.
For the sanctification under Doge Vitale Falier Dodoni, differing dates are written, seemingly indicating a succession of consecrations of various divisions. The sanctification on 8 October 1094 deliberately expected the loyalty of the pope’s jurisdiction. In that era, the evidence of Saint Mark was too established in the new catacomb.
As erected, the Contarini religion was a harsh block form. Adornment inside was restricted to the processions of the arcades, parapets and the balusters of the galleries, and the trellis pedestal screens. The divider surfaces were beautified accompanying cut carefully with sharp instrument arches that interspersed the accompanying operating craft of mason pillars in addition to alcoves and any cornices.
Except the for the corner and the situated or toward the west façade that met Saint Mark’s Square, the bare block exterior was vitalized only by diminishing side-by-side arches in divergent blocks about the fanlights.
The westward façade, corresponding to middle-Byzantine churches built on the tenth and eleventh day, was from an order of arches set betwixt poking mainstays. The obstruction was penetrated by fanlights that emerged best blind arches, while the intermediary mainstays were trimmed accompanying slots and circular patterns make sense of exceptional intelligence and minerals that were encircled accompanying decorative frames.
Other beautifying analyses, containing friezes and corbel tables, mirrored Romanesque flows, evidence of the taste and creativity of the Italian laborers.
In addition to the sixteen bays in each of the five domes, the pope’s jurisdiction was initially illuminated by three or seven fenestras in the corner and doubtless eight in each of the lunettes. But many of these bays were later confined until built more surface scope was for the collage embellishment so that the interior was taken lacking light part of every 24 hours, specifically the districts under the galleries that waited in relative ignorance.
The galleries were as a consequence shortened to narrow walkways other than the death of the northerly, in the south, and westward cross-arms place they wait. These walkways assert the original relaxation panels of the gallery’s supplementary applique the principal division of the pope’s jurisdiction.
Architecture of St Mark’s Basilica
The three unprotected façades become functional a long and complex development. Particularly in the thirteenth centennial, the exterior character of the pope’s jurisdiction was originally changed: the copied alabaster covering was additional, and a large group of pillars and sculptural parts was used to embellish the United States of America chapel. It is apparent that fundamental details were likewise increased in the façades or reduced.
The exterior of the church is detached into two registers. On the westward façade, the distance down or across is ruled by five intensely terminated entryways that alternate accompanying abundant piers. The distance down or across was later entirely carpeted accompanying two levels of valued pillars, principally booty from the Fourth Crusade
The aediculae on the northerly façade hold images of the four original Latin Doctors of the pope’s jurisdiction: Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose, and Gregory the Great. Allegorical figures of Temperance, Prudence, Faith, and Charity top the lunettes.
The Gothic climactic resumes in the above register about the south façade, the lunettes being surpassed accompanying the symbolic figures of Justice and Fortitude and the aediculae dwelling effigies of Saint Anthony Abbot and Saint Paul the Hermit.
The south façade is ultimately sumptuously causing to be soiled façade accompanying infrequent intelligence, booty, and citations, containing the supposed mainstays of Acre, the likeness of the four tetrarchs entrenched into the extrinsic obstruction of the bank, and the porphyry regal suddenly the on the west side when facing north-west corner of the platform, ordinarily trusted to show Justinian II and commonly recognized as Francesco Bussone da Carmagnola.
Entry hall (Zen Chapel)
In the thirteenth century, in connection with work in the adjacent narthex, the church’s southern entry hall was redecorated; of the first appearance of the section lobby, nothing is known. The current mosaic cycle in the barrel vault serves as a prelude to the main façade’s mosaic cycle, which tells the story of how Saint Mark’s relics were transported from Alexandria, Egypt, to Venice.
The predestination, an angelic prediction that Mark would one day be buried in Venice, is one of the events depicted. This affirms Venice’s divine right to possess the relics. The scenes depicting Saint Mark writing his Gospel and presenting it to Saint Peter demonstrate his authority.
The departure of Saint Mark from Egypt and the miracles he performed there are also given special significance, establishing continuity with the facade’s opening scene of the body removal from Alexandria.
Even though St. Mark’s was designed after the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople, the design had to be changed because of the need for ceremonies and the limitations of the walls and foundations. The cruciform plan with five domes was kept.
Anyway, the Blessed Witnesses was a genuine halfway-arranged church: The altar was beneath the central dome, which was larger than the others and had no other domes with windows. The four cross-arms could not be distinguished from one another: There was no apse, and the interior was surrounded by double-tiered arcades. In contrast, the emphasis was placed on the longitudinal axis to create a space suitable for state ceremony processions.
The nave visually limits towards the raised chancel in the eastern cross arm, where the sanctuary, stands, through a series of increasingly smaller arches. The cross-arms of the transept are shorter and narrower. The larger central and western domes emphasize the progression along the nave.
The addition of arches supported on double columns within the barrel vaults further reduces their optical height and width. Additionally, the chancel and transept domes are smaller.
Chancel and choir chapels
A Gothic altar screen from 1394 encloses the chancel. It is topped with a bronze and silver Crucifix and flanked by sculptures of the Virgin Mary, Saint Mark, and the Twelve Apostles. The ambo for Scripture readings is on the left of the screen, and the platform from which the newly chosen Doge was introduced to the people is on the right.
Marble banisters highlight the end of the choir, which was used by the Doge, municipal officials, and foreign diplomats when it was reorganized by Doge Andrea Gritti. Before the sixteenth century, the Doge’s throne was positioned near the choir chapel of Saint Clement I, through which the courtyard of the Doge’s Palace was accessible.
The chapel was set aside for the Doge’s exclusive use. From the window above, which speaks with his confidential lofts, it was additionally feasible for the Doge to help at mass in the congregation.
Side altars and chapels
The devout were the primary users of the transept’s side altars. The altar in the northern crossarm was originally devoted to Saint John the Evangelist: the mosaics in the dome above depict an old Saint John surrounded by five episodes from his life in Ephesus.
The 13th-century stone carving of St. John was moved to the north facade of the church in 1617 when the altar was rededicated to the late 11th-early 12th-century Byzantine icon Madonna Nicopeia.
The baptistery’s construction date is unknown, although it was most likely during the reign of Doge Giovanni Soranzo, whose grave is housed within it, indicating that he was in charge of the architectural adaption. Doge Andrea Dandolo, who carried out the ornamental program at his own expense, is also buried in the baptistery.
On the walls, mosaics depict episodes from Saint John the Baptist’s life, and in the ante-baptistery, images from Christ’s infancy. The dome features the dispersion of the Apostles, each represented in the act of baptism a different country in allusion to Christ’s commission to proclaim the Gospel to all nations, just over the bronze font created by Sansovino.
Above the altar, the second dome depicts Christ in glory, surrounded by the nine heavenly choirs. The altar is a big granite boulder that was transported to Venice from Tyre during the Venetian victory. It is said that Christ stood atop this rock to preach to the people of Tyre.
In 1486 Giorgio Spavento built a new sacristy as a prototype, attached to both the presbytery of St. Peter and the choir chapel. The location of the former sacristy is unknown. This was his first Spavento project and the only one he directed from start to finish. Decoration began in his 1493.
The cabinets, which house reliquaries, monstrances, vestments, liturgical items, and books, were inlaid by Antonio della Mola and his brother Paolo and depict scenes from Saint Mark’s life. Titian planned and created the vault’s mosaic ornamentation, which depicts Old Testament prophets, between 1524 and 1530.
Behind the sacristy is a church designed by Spavento and dedicated to Saint Theodore, Venice’s first patron saint. Built-in an austere Renaissance style between 1486 and 1493, it functioned as the private chapel for the basilica’s canons and, subsequently, as the seat of the Venetian Inquisition.
St Mark’s, being the state church, served as a model for Venetian architects. Its influence appears to have been limited to decorative patterns and details during the Gothic period, It consists of pointed arches with fiery relief carvings reminiscent of the crickets of Piazza San Marco, such as the portal and painted wall decoration of the Church of Santo Stefano and the portal of the Madonna del Orto Church.
Style of St Mark’s Basilica
The earliest mosaics of St Mark’s, It was probably placed in the portal niche of the Narthex entrance in 1070. Although Byzantine in style, they are quite outdated in comparison to current Byzantine tendencies.
They were most likely executed by a mosaic artist who left Constantinople in the mid-11th century to work in the church of Torcello and then remained in the area. Completed in the late 11th century and early 12th century, his main apse figures are more modern, but still archaic in design.
The Time of the visit to St Mark’s Basilica
St Mark Basilica is open from 9.30 am (Sunday and Solemnities ‘of precept’ from 2 pm) to 5.15 pm (last admission: 4.45 pm; ticket: 3 €; free for children under 6 years old), with the option of visiting the Pala d’Oro (supplement: 5 €; free for children under 6 years old) and the Museum – Loggia dei Cavalli (supplement: 7 €; free for children under 6 years old).
You can only visit the Museum – Loggia dei Cavalli on Sunday morning from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (ticket: 7 €; free for kids as long as 6 years old).
Because of present Coronavirus guidelines, on Saturday and Sunday, you can purchase tickets just at the San Basso Ticket Office (Piazzetta dei Leoncini).
The Bell Tower is open from 9:30 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. every day (last admission: 8.45 pm; ticket: 10 €; Children over 6 years old are free). The Bell Tower will be closed in the event of bad weather (fog, strong wind, extreme cold).