To build St. Mark’s Church, Venice brought the spiritual and material heritage of Byzantium to the West.
The Greek cross plan stands on a structure which in the longitudinal nave has basilica architectural motifs: the vertical arm of the cross is greater than those of the transepts and the altar is in the apse area. Above the cross are five cupolas, according to the eastern model, as a symbol of God’s presence.
Organisation of the space is rich in evocations that are not found in other Byzantine churches. The interior has a unitary sequence subdivided into individual spatial orchestrations to which gold background mosaics ensure continuity and the church’s special way of being.
The Treasure of St. Mark’s is the richest documentation of gold and silver work, precious stones, ornamental glass and paintings, the most refined items produced for the churches and buildings of Constantinople and the most precious pieces created for the glory of St. Mark’s by Venetian craftsmen.
All agree that the most precious piece is the Pala d’Oro, the retable of the high altar of the church which glorifies the Evangelist and contains his relics.
St. Mark’s Museum was established at the end of the 19th century. Recently the Museum has re-opened with a new fitting out made possible by the extension of the Museum surface between the historic area on the Basilica’s vestibule and the former Doge’s Sala dei Banchetti (Banquet Hall).
It houses objects of various kinds and origins that belong to the church.
One of the most prestigious works is the quadriga of St. Mark’s, moved from its original position in the centre of the faï¿½ade after the last restoration.
In the Sala dei Banchetti there is the weekday altar-piece by Paolo Veneziano, a painting on wood dating to the mid 14th century illustrating stories from the life of St. Mark. It was used long ago to cover the pala d’oro.
The Museum also contains Persian carpets, liturgical vestments, illuminated manuscripts with the texts of St. Mark liturgies and fragments of ancient mosaics removed during restoration in the 19th century. Then there are tapestries in wool with episodes from the Passion of Christ and others in silk and silver illustrating stories of St. Mark.
On the occasion of the new fitting out, the official site of St. Mark’s Museum has been launched in order to illustrate its history, the works of art and the new spaces.
Piazza San Marco
Basilica: 9.45am-5pm; Sundays and Holidays 2pm-4pm (2pm-5pm from Easter to November)
Pala d’ Oro: 9.45am- 4pm (9.45am-5pm from Easter to November)
Tesoro: 9.45am-4pm; holidays 2pm-4pm (closing at 5pm from Easter to November)
Free entry for the Basilica; 2,00 € / 1,00 € Pala d’Oro; 3,00 € / 1,50 € Tesoro
1 -2 – 5.1 – 5.2 Actv – San Marco
041 270 83 11