Not only the most famous picture postcard of the city, and the great heart of Venice, St. Mark’s Basilica is a heady mix of history, art and contradictions. The meeting with this unique city starts here!
The St. Mark’s Basilica, with its bell tower and square overlooking the water, is one of Italy’s and the world’s most recognizable (and photographed) landmarks. In addition to being the city’s most important church, the Basilica is a monument to the history of Venice, a grand treasure chest of Venetian art and lavish spoils garnered from the eastern Mediterranean. Its dazzling polychrome façade with its marbles and mosaics, spires and domes, and Venice’s famous winged lion, the symbol of the city for centuries, is revealed in all of its glory. The interior, featuring an abundance of exquisitely gilded Byzantine mosaics, is definitely worth a visit. A visit to its Museum and Treasury, located on the upper floor, is a not-to-be-missed highlight. While in the area, make sure to ascend to the top of its Bell Tower, which offers superb views over the city. There is no way you cannot visit Venice without visiting St. Mark’s.
The St. Mark’s Basilica is a Catholic church that welcomes worshippers and tourists alike. It is open daily for prayer and to allow visitors to admire its extraordinary artistic heritage. However, at certain times or on certain days, it is entirely given over to religious ceremonies and visits are suspended (for more information to check the website). On entering, visitors are asked to respect the rules: appropriate clothing must be worn, as this is a place of worship. Taking photographs is forbidden and visitors are asked to lower their voices at all times. For reasons of safety, heavy luggage must be left outside (luggage can be deposited in Ateneo San Basso, in Piazzetta dei Leoncini, in front of the Porta dei Fiori, north facade).
Please note that you will probably have to wait for about 45 minutes in order to gain access to the Basilica. Entry to the Basilica is free-of-charge, but admission to the Museum, the Pala d’Oro and the Bell Tower is not. The whole building (except for the bell tower) is accessible to people with physical disabilities and wheelchair users who can gain entry through the north gate.