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St Mark's Basilica

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St Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) is one of the most stunning churches in Italy, built in the relatively rare Italo-Byzantine style. Decorated in over 86,000 square feet (8000m²) of ground gold mosaics, visitors will be in awe at the sight of the majestic interior. You can also visit the basilica’s treasury, it’s elaborate altarpiece, the Pala d’Oro, a museum on the upper floors, or even climb the Campanile for an excellent view of Venice.
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Audio Guide

Get a little deeper when you book an audio guide for your visit to St Mark’s Basilica.
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St. Mark's Square and Basilica Interior with Audio Guide

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Guided Tour

Take a tour with an expert guide to learn more about the basilica.
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Guided Tour with Fast Track Entry to Saint Mark's Basilica

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Guided Tour of St. Mark's Basilica

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Skip the Line: St. Mark's Basilica Guided Tour

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Venice: Skip-the-Line Golden Basilica Tour

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More Tickets & Tours

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Venice: Doge's Palace & St Mark's Basilica Fast-Track Tour

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Venice Doge's Palace & St Mark's Basilica Skip-the-Line Tour

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St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace Fast Track Tour

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Doge's Palace, St. Mark's Basilica and Venice Walking Tour

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6 Tips for Visiting the St Mark's Basilica

From the Campanile | Photo: Flickr, HarshLight - CC BY 2.0
1
Climb the Campanile, the 323 foot (98.6m) tall bell tower in front of the basilica, for some of the best views in Venice. There’s a lift to the top, so you don’t have to worry about stairs, and you’ll also get a good look at the bells.
Pala d’Oro | Photo: Wikipedia, Sailko - CC BY 3.0
2
Visit the Pala d’Oro, the altarpiece of the basilica and one of the most stunning examples of Byzantine religious art. Get up close to see delicate images of the life of Christ and St Mark and be wowed by the huge amount of gold, silver, and precious stones that make up the artwork.
3
Visit early in the morning or in the evening to avoid large tour groups, which tend to arrive between 10.30 am and 4 pm.
4
The church interior is only illuminated for about an hour in the late morning, so go then to see the stunning golden walls and domes in their full splendor.
5
If you’re visiting the museum then make sure to pause on the balcony which holds the four replica horses which stand over the entrance to the church - you’ll get an amazing view of the square below and the water beyond it.
6
The museum is also the only place where you’re allowed to take photos of the basilica’s interior. In the main area of the basilica, photography isn’t allowed. You’ll get a good view of the domes from a balcony on the museum floor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I visit Saint Mark’s Basilica?

St Mark’s Basilica is a testament to the power of medieval Venice. It houses some of the remains of St Mark the Evangelist, stolen from Alexandria in 828. It blends Byzantine and Islamic elements of architecture, though it was largely built by Italian craftsmen. Many of the key pieces of art were stolen from other countries in the Mediterranean and were added to the cathedral to symbolize the power of Venice. The four horses which stand on the balcony were taken from Constantinople during the 4th Crusade, as was the statue of the Four Tetrarchs which is set into the wall of the basilica. The interior is covered with 86,000 square feet (8000m²) of huge mosaics made out of ground gold. Unlike other Italian churches, the use of mosaics went on until the 19th century and the cathedral never really moved over to the traditionally painted frescoes you’ll see in other churches. All that gold and plunder means that the basilica is a must-see for anyone with an interest in the history of Venice, as well as those with a magpie’s eye for shiny things!

What are the other things to see in the basilica complex?

On the upper floor of the basilica is St Mark’s Museum which is home to items from the history of the cathedral, including the original bronze horses which stood above the basilica’s door, fragments of mosaics, vestments, tapestries, and much more. The Treasury of St Mark’s contains 283 pieces made of gold, silver, and precious gems, including precious objects looted from Constantinople and liturgical objects from the cathedral’s own history. The last additional element inside the basilica is the Pala d’Oro, which is the high altar retable (or altarpiece) which was created in three stages between 1102 and 1345 and shows scenes from the lives of Jesus Christ and St Mark the Evangelist made out of enamel, gold, silver and 1,927 precious stones. The Pala d’Oro is only opened during liturgical celebrations, but you can see the stunning exterior on your visit. The basilica itself is free to enter but the museum, treasury, and Pala d’Oro all require separate tickets. Outside the basilica, you can also visit the Campanile di San Marco for an additional fee.

What is the Campanile?

The Campanile di San Marco or St Mark’s Campanile is the bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica. In English, it’s referred to as a ‘campanile’ largely because it’s a free-standing structure, not attached to the church. Originally built in the 9th century, the structure was rebuilt and amended several times over the centuries, most recently in 1912 after it collapsed in 1902. Today visitors take an elevator to the top, 323 feet (98.6m) above the square below, where you’ll get to enjoy fabulous views of the basilica, the lagoon, and the whole of Venice. Plus you’ll get up close to the 5 bells, each of which has its own purpose. During the time of the republic, one sounded for executions, one for a session of the Senate, one still rings daily at noon, one called the council to meetings, and the final bell rang at the beginning and end of each working day. The tower has recently started to lean, due to the unstable foundations it was built on, so there are ongoing works to stabilize it. Visitors are still able to go to the top of the tower while the works are ongoing.

How long will a visit take?

You should plan 10 minutes for a visit to the basilica itself (plus queuing to get in), maybe 20 minutes if you know you’ll want to linger. The museum takes another 30 minutes to explore, and if you also look at the Palm d’Oro and Treasury then the whole visit will take about an hour in total.

General Information

Opening Hours:

The Basilica San Marco is open on weekdays and Saturdays from 9.30 am to 5 pm, with the final admission at 4.45 pm. On Sundays and holidays, the basilica opens at 2 pm and closes at 4.30 pm (in winter and spring) or 5 pm (in summer and autumn), with final admission 15 minutes before closing time.

From the end of October to the middle of April, St Mark’s Museum is open from 9.45 am to 4.45 pm. For the rest of the year, the museum is open from 9.35 am to 5 pm.

The Pala d’Oro and the Treasury are open at the same time as St Mark’s Museum except on Sundays and holidays, when they open from 2 pm to 4.30 pm or 5 pm depending on the opening hours of the basilica.

From October until March the Bell Tower is open from 9.30 am daily. During early April it is open from 9 am and from the end of April until the end of September it opens from 8.30 am daily. During winter the Bell Tower is generally open until 4.45 pm and during summer it is open until 9 pm. Last admission is 15 minutes before the tower closes for the day. The Bell Tower may close for maintenance throughout the year and it also closes when there are adverse weather conditions.

Address:

Saint Mark's Basilica
Piazza San Marco, 328
30100 Vencice
Italy

Tickets:

Entrance to the basilica is free but certain areas of it require a ticket. St Mark’s Museum tickets cost €5, €4 for groups, and €2.50 for children aged 6 to 18. The Pala d’oro costs €2, €1.50 for groups, and €1 for children aged 6 to 18. The Treasury costs €3, €2 for groups, and €1.50 for children aged 6 to 18. Access to the bell tower costs €8, €6 for groups, and €4 for children aged 6 to 18. The group rate only applies to groups of more than 25 adults (aged 19 and over).

How to get there:

Piazza San Marco can be reached via vaporetti lines 1, 51, and 2 from either the Piazzale Roma or Santa Lucia station. You can walk from either of those locations in about 40 minutes, and the basilica is easy to reach from many other attractions and sites in Venice.

Rules for entrance:

- As in many churches in Italy, clothes should cover the shoulders and knees or entrance may be refused. Bring a scarf or sweater if in doubt.
- Visitors are not permitted to take photographs or film inside the basilica.
- Luggage is not allowed inside, it can be left at Ateneo San Basso, across the Piazzetta dei Leoncini from the basilica, free of charge before entering.
- Visitors are asked not to speak loudly, and guides are required to use headsets and earphones to give tours.

Accessibility:

Visitors using wheelchairs can enter the basilica and gain entrance to the Treasury via the Porta dei Fiori, which has a ramp. They can also access the museum on the upper floor of the basilica by using either an elevator or a stair lift, both of which require assistance from a member of staff.
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