St. Mark's Basilica majestically symbolizes the lagoon and enshrines the history of Venice. It was originally built in 828 to house the Evangelist Mark, whose body Venetian merchants stole from his tomb in Alexandria, Egypt, because Muslims were going to desecrate the church where it was laid to rest. The basilica had to be reconstructed after a fire in 976. Doge Domenico Contarini decided to rebuild the church on the same Greek cross plan as the previous one. In 1096, it was consecrated, but the decorative work continued until the beginning of the 19th century.
The present church is modeled on the 6th century Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople with an equal-sided cross, surmounted by five symmetrically placed monumental domes. The light is thus directed towards the centre of the basilica, leaving the side aisles in comparative shadow. The west wing was later enlarged by adding a surrounding narthex. The marble columns and slabs, the mosaics and carvings, the paintings and statuary, the gold and jeweled icons and the countless other treasures in the building reflect many centuries of Venetian dominance over the eastern Mediterranean. The basilica is situated front and center of the magnificent Piazza San Marco, the highlight for every tourist visiting Venice.
Address: Piazza San Marco, Venice -- Phone: (+39) 0415224064