Basilica of San Marco: Church of Gold

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You will need to take a deep breath before entering the canals of Venice, as this city is literally built of breathtaking scenes. One of the most popular sights in Venice, worthy of exclamations and amazement, is the Basilica of San Marco.


The Basilica is the city’s passport. Saint Mark the Evangelist was declared as the saint patron of Venice. His remains, however, were located in Alexandria. Two Venetian merchants, who stopped in Alexandria to pray by the remnants of their patron, managed to steal the body of the saint and transport it all the way to Venice. This was a turning point for Venice, as it later secured prosperity and dynamic cultural life for the city. Medieval cities that owned remnants of saints were targets for trade and other events. Venice was in ownership of a whole body, a rare phenomenon in the Christian world.

Golden Décor of the Church

This 11th century church is equally splendid both from inside and the outside. The golden dome has earned the church its nickname – “Church of Gold.” The details were added over and over again, long after the construction was finished. According to a story, Venetian vessels had a habit of bringing gifts for the basilica from foreign lands. These gifts were not hidden in dusty treasuries, but were incorporated into the design.

The architecture is comprised of Byzantine, Roman, and Venetian traditions. The number of architects who have worked on the plan, is endless. Both Venetian and European masters have had their share in the building of this gem. The interior is densely covered with mosaics featuring the tales of Saint Mark. If you are familiar with the Old and New Testaments, there will be many familiar scenes pictured on the wall.

Five domes of the church look extraordinary even from a distance. Get yourself a good Italian wine, find a free rooftop around the Basilica, and wait for the sunset. The sun will fire up the golden domes and illuminate the church.

Treasures of San Marco

The basilica is exceptional for a few reasons. First, it has a striking exterior. Second, its treasury is filled with incredible wealth.

You already know about the remnants of San Marco. Next up is the Altar Pala, which has been enriched with precious stones for centuries, just like the church. The Golden Pala, as it was named, was saved from Napoleon’s conquests by the locals; they hid the pala in their houses. The treasury was particularly expanded during the Fourth Crusade, where Venice also took part.

In modern-day Italy, the Basilica is the most marvelous spot in Venice. Your religious background does not matter, as long as you appreciate the triumph of architectural masterpiece. Plus, you will have a lot to tell your grandchildren years later.

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