Saint Mark's Basilica
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Saint Mark's Basilica: Tours & Tickets

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5 historical facts about Saint Mark's Basilica

Venice's most famous church is more a testament to the city's Medieval wealth and power than the teachings of Christ. Its history, however, might just be even more spectacular than its architecture! Here are five fun facts dug up from its colorful past.

It was built for the bones of Mark the Evangelist

The original church was built circa 832 to harbor the relics of Saint Mark, which were supposedly stolen from Alexandria by Venetian merchants!

The original was burned down to assassinate a Doge

The Doge (leader) of Venice, Pietro IV Candiano, was so unpopular by 976 that his constituents locked him in Saint Mark's and burned it to the ground!

Its nickname is the "Chiesa d'Oro"

Hardly a symbol of Christian humility, the cathedral's opulent mosaics gave rise to a nickname that has lasted since its 9th century construction – The Church of Gold!

It's decorated partly by the spoils of war

The 4th Crusade didn't go quite as planned! Rather than reach Jerusalum, the Venetians instead pillaged Constantinople and stole many artifacts to adorn their cathedral.

Its mosaics cover approximately 8000 m²

But, unfortunately, only about a third is original! Though once maintained by a workshop of skilled mosaicists, much was simply replaced in cheap 19th-century restoration attempts.

Saint Mark's Basilica: Our Tips

What are the opening times?

The Basilica's opening hours are from 9:45AM to 5:00PM, and on Sundays and holidays between 2:00PM and 4:00PM or 5:00PM depending on the season. Entrance to the Basilica is free, but visiting the museum, treasury, or Pala d'Oro requires paying for tickets.

What to wear?

Whether you're booking a tour or intend to visit Saint Mark's Basilica alone, be sure to dress appropriately for a place of worship! A general rule of thumb is to keep arms and legs covered (and no flip-flops!). Also note that bringing luggage in is forbidden, as is filming or taking photographs inside.

Good to Know

  • When to visit
    9:45AM to 5:00PM, Sundays and Holidays 2:00PM to 4:00PM or 5:00PM, depending on season.
  • What is the price?
    The Basilica is free, but the museum, treasury and Pala d'Oro require admission fees.
  • Will I need a guide?
    It will definitely help. Might be worth it to check out our best-selling tours.
  • How to get there
    This attraction is within walking distance from most hotels in city center!
  • Additional tips
    Bringing in luggage, filming or taking photographs inside is strictly forbidden. | It's best to keep your arms and legs covered, and no flip-flops!

What People Are Saying About Saint Mark's Basilica

Very informative tour and our guide was charming and entertaining

So interesting to view the Doge Palace and the Basilica. Having an informed and passionate guide made the experience even better.

I am a Venetian myself, but I learnt many things I didn't know

I booked this activity even if I am from Venice because I had three foreign friends with me on their first visit to the city, and I know how long it may take to get inside the Basilica. It was the right choice, considering that 15 minutes before the start time, it started raining as if it was one of those sudden tropical showers. So it was really nice that we didn't have to wait in line for hours under the rain. The guy at the reception was really friendly and helpful, and the girl who guided us through the tour (such a pity that I cannot remember her name) shall be canonized and have her picture hang up next to St. Mark's. We had a very badly behaved family in our group, with kids (and adults) running in every direction (included no-trespass areas) and even trying to steal the radio receivers; but our guide showed a perseverance and patience that I don't think I would have in the same situation. A big Brava to her and to all the staff.
Venice: St. Mark’s Basilica & Cloister of St. Apollonia Reviewed by a GetYourGuide Customer, 09/23/2016

Interesting, informative and fun ( avoiding much of the queues )

As a first time visitor to Venice ( and hopefully not the last ) this tour proved to be a great way to avoid much but not all of the queuing and chaotic crowds around the Doge's Palace and St Mark's Basilica. The guide was interesting,informative and at times fun. Advertised as a 2 hour tour it actually was more like 3 hours but the time flew as there was so much to see and take in. The clarity of the audio system at times could have been better ( may be clearer if you used your own headphones ) but apart from that we had a great tour.

A very worthwhile tutor of Doge's Palace & St Mark's. A must do thing.

A visit to St Mark's & The Doge's Palace are a must do thing in Venice. Some interesting facts provided by guide
Doge's Palace & St. Mark's Basilica 2-Hour Tour Reviewed by Geoffrey, 09/14/2016

Excellent guide- knowledgeable and entertaining.

Would definitely recommend this tour. It's quite hot here at the moment and 2 hours felt like enough.
Doge's Palace & St. Mark's Basilica 2-Hour Tour Reviewed by Louise, 08/31/2016

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Saint Mark's Basilica
Based on 1,076 reviews by GetYourGuide customers