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The Ultimate Guide to St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice

Perched on Saint Mark’s Square, the multi-domed St. Mark’s Basilica, also called “Golden Church,” is a must-visit Cathedral in Venice.

This magnificent cathedral is devoted to Saint Mark the Evangelist, the city’s patron saint, and serves as the resting site for his sacred remains.

Saint Mark’s Basilica is also called “Basilica di San Marco” in Italian.

This guide covers everything from its significance to its architecture, history, opening hours, the best time to visit, and St Mark’s Basilica tickets.

Where is St. Mark’s Basilica Situated?

Address: P.za. San Marco, 328, 30100 Venezia VE, Italy

St. Mark’s Basilica is in the heart of Venice’s main square, Piazza San Marco, also known as Saint Mark’s Square.

It is located at the eastern end of Saint Mark’s Square, beside the Doge’s Palace.

Who built St. Mark’s Basilica?

Doge Giustiniano Participazio wished in his will for his widow and younger brother, Giovanni, to construct a church for Saint Mark’s relics.

Later, it was rebuilt in the 9th century by Domenico Contarini. He was the architect who built St. Mark’s Basilica and the 30th Doge of Venice.

About St. Mark’s Basilica

Opening Hours: 9.30 am to 5 pm

Best time to visit: April to May and September to November

🛫 Closest Airport: Marco Polo Airport (VCE), in Tessera

Ticket Price: €25 onwards

Year of opening: 8 October, 1094

St Mark’s Basilica Tickets

St. Mark’s Basilica is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Venice, and the lines can be long, especially during peak season (April to September). 

But with a skip-the-line ticket, you can bypass the crowds and head straight inside to admire the hundreds of golden mosaics and Byzantine art.

St Mark’s Basilica ticket includes:

  • Skip-the-line entry to St. Mark’s Basilica
  • Audio guide with narration in multiple languages
  • Access to the basilica’s five domes and array of artworks
  • Learn about the legends and stories surrounding the basilica

You can download the audio guide to your mobile device and start your tour of St. Mark’s Basilica.

These St Mark’s Basilica Skip the Line tickets will help you save 30-40 minutes of waiting lines and help you explore inside.

The St Mark’s Basilica ticket price starts at €16 per person.

Most visitors like to combine visiting the Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Basilica on the same day.

So, you can upgrade your ticket to a fast-track tour of the Doge’s Palace and Saint Basilica by paying €84 per person.

St Mark’s Basilica Combos

St Mark’s Basilica combo toursPrice Range
St Mark’s Basilica + Doge’s Palace€80 to €95
Doge’s Palace + St. Mark’s Terrace €42 to €84 (shared tour)€180 to €350 (private tour)
Grand Canal Venice + St. Mark’s Basilica€109 to €353

Why buy St. Mark’s Basilica tickets online?

You can buy tickets to St Mark’s Basilica in Venice on-site, but it is best to buy them online. Here’s why:

  • Advanced booking: You can book your tickets in advance, so you don’t have to worry about them selling out. This is especially important during peak season.
  • Convenience: Purchase your St Mark’s Basilica tickets from the comfort of your home or hotel, and you won’t have to stand in long lines. You will also get 24/7 customer service.

Discounts: You can often get discounts on online tickets. You may also be able to book combo tours that include tickets to St Mark’s Basilica and other popular attractions in Venice.

What to expect at St. Mark’s Basilica

Get ready for a world of marvels as you enter St. Mark’s Basilica!

The Five Grand Domes

St. Mark’s Basilica has five domes, each of which is decorated with beautiful mosaics. 

The best place to view these domes is from the galleries near the museum.

The mosaics on the domes depict scenes from the Bible, including the Creation, the Last Judgment, and the Ascension of Jesus. 

They are made of gold and glass and are incredibly intricate and beautiful.

Pala d’Oro

Pala d’Oro is a beautiful work of art from the Byzantine era, adorned with 1927 precious gems.

The jewels on the altarpiece tell the story of Christ’s life and were crafted into their current splendor 300 years ago.
Tomb of Saint Mark

Underneath the basilica lies the crypt, where St. Mark’s body rests.

It was made to safeguard the Saint’s remains after they were brought from Alexandria.

The space is decorated with softly lit mosaics, creating a unique ambiance.

It is open for tours even beyond regular hours.

San Marco Museum
Inside, there’s a fantastic collection, including Persian carpets, bits of broken mosaics, and other old objects.

See the Sala de Banchetti room with royal fabrics and the Doge’s red velvet throne.

The most remarkable thing here is the Quadriga or the Horses of San Marco.

Treasury

The treasury consists of a collection of valuable items looted by the Venetians from Constantinople.

There are also artworks by ancient Venetian artisans.

This part of the Basilica holds 823 pieces of gold and silver, along with many other precious items, making it the most essential part of the place.

Marble Inlays

The floor of the Basilica is covered in marble with intricate patterns.

It’s about 2099 square meters in size and has earthy colors with designs of animals and flowers.

Look closely to spot designs of peacocks, roosters, foxes, and more as you walk around.

Bell Tower

The St. Mark’s Campanile is one of the most iconic landmarks in Venice. 

It is a bell tower located in Piazza San Marco, the main square of the city. 

The tower is 99 meters tall and has a simple structure, with a square shaft made of fluted brick and a pyramidal spire at the top.

Why is St. Mark’s Basilica famous?

Why is St. Mark’s Basilica famous
Image: Jelena990 from Getty Images (Canva)

St. Mark’s Basilica is a religious place famous for its rich history, artifacts, and architecture.

An astounding 43,000 square feet of golden mosaics in this ‘Golden Church’ makes it unique and famous among visitors. 

It is a beautiful church with stunning architecture and a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture, with domes, ornate marble flooring, and intricate mosaics.

The Pala d’Oro altarpiece is a gold, enamel, and precious gem altarpiece. 

It is an essential religious artifact and a remarkable work of art that exemplifies Byzantine craftsmanship.

The basilica holds some historic relics, including the remains of St. Mark and four ancient bronze horses.

It houses several Venetian masterpieces, such as the bronze doors that feature scenes from the Bible and the sculpted marble columns inside the church.

The Fascinating History of St. Mark’s Basilica

Long ago, the basilica was built to protect St Mark’s relics. 

Traders brought the Saint’s relics in a barrel hidden under pork, sneaking them from Egypt.

A dangerous storm almost wrecked their ship, but the story goes that the Saint’s ghost showed up and saved them.

The magical moment is also depicted in a painting inside the Basilica.

Architecture of St. Mark’s Basilica

Architectural Style: Byzantine and Italian Gothic architecture

The three facades of St. Mark’s Basilica—North, South, and West—open out around the lower body of the Basilica.

Outside, you’ll see colorful marble and big doors. Inside, discover the magic of over 8,000 square meters of gold mosaics.

The giant dome above has gold pictures showing Jesus going up to heaven. On the sides, there are unique chapels with lovely pictures, too.

This place is a mix of different architectural styles, like Byzantine and Italian Gothic architecture, that looks truly stunning.

How to reach St. Mark’s Basilica?

Venice is connected to other major Italian cities by train. The closest railway station is Santa Lucia.

You must travel by the water bus line after the train station.

The closest water taxi/vaporetto stations are San Marco-San Zaccaria and San Marco Giardinetti.

It is a 4-minute walk from both stations to St. Mark’s Basilica. 

Also, it’s a short 30-minute walk from Santa Lucia train station and just a 10-minute stroll from Rialto Bridge.

You will find the beautiful basilica right next to the Doge’s Palace.

To explore Venice, you can also take a ferry (Vaporetto) to get around. 

The best place to start is at the Santa Lucia train station, where you can hop on a ferry to the San Marco or San Zaccaria ferry stations. 

From there, it’s a short walk to St. Mark’s Basilica.

Alternatively, you can walk from the center of Venice to the Ferrovia ‘B’ boat port near the Santa Lucia train station.

Then, take the No. 2 boat at the Rialto ferry terminal and get off after a few minutes. 

Getting to St. Mark’s Basilica from the boat dock will take around half an hour.

St. Mark’s Basilica Opening Hours

St Mark’s Basilica opens every day from 9.30 am to 5 pm.

Monday to Saturday: 9.30 am to 5 pm
Sundays and Holidays: 2 pm to 4 pm

During March, April, and festive times, the Church is open until 5 pm on Sundays.

The basilica times may differ on religious holidays like Christmas and Easter. The Church may open late or close early.

The bell tower is open from 9.30 am to 9.15 pm daily, with the last entry at 8.45 pm. Mass is held daily from 8 am to 7.30 pm.

How long does it take to visit St. Mark’s Basilica?

1-1.5 hours is good enough to spend at St. Mark’s Basilica.

However, the duration of stay at the St. Mark’s Basilica depends on visitors’ preferences.

Also, if you want a half-day outing, consider visiting Doge’s Palace, 200m from the basilica.

What is the best time to visit St. Mark’s Basilica?

Any weekday before the church opens (9.30 am) is the best time to visit St. Mark’s Basilica for a crowd-free experience.

The spring season (March to May) and summer (June to August) are peak tourist times.

However, the best time of the year to visit St. Mark’s Basilica and Venice is from September to November after the summer season.

During these times, the crowds are thin, hotel rates are low, and the temperatures drop to 15 Degrees Celsius.

Venice again gets busier by the end of February because of the world-famous Venice Carnival.

Is there a dress code for St. Mark’s Basilica?

St. Mark’s Basilica is a place of worship with a dress code to honor its sacred and religious significance.

Visitors are required to dress modestly, covering their shoulders and knees.

Sleeveless tops, shirts, short skirts, and shorts are not allowed inside St. Mark’s Basilica.

St Mark’s Basilica entrances

St. Mark’s Basilica has three entrances:

  • The Door of Saint Clement is the main entrance on the basilica’s west side.
  • The Door of Flowers is on the north side of the basilica.
  • The Door of Saint Peter is on the south side of the basilica.

There are also separate entrances to the Bell Tower, on the right side of the facade, and to the museum, which is located on the second floor of the basilica.

Map of St Mark’s Basilica

MAP

Map Download

Where to eat near St Mark’s Basilica

Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti: This cozy restaurant is a great place to try traditional Venetian cuisine. The menu features dishes like risotto al nero di sepia (black risotto with squid ink), pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines), and fegato alla Veneziana (liver with onions). The restaurant also has a wide selection of wines from the Veneto region.

Trattoria da Remigio: This rustic trattoria is a great option for seafood lovers. The menu features fresh fish and shellfish cooked simply and to perfection. The restaurant also has a lovely outdoor terrace where you can dine al fresco.

Al Nono Risorto: This family-run restaurant near St. Mark’s Basilica is a popular spot for pizza and pasta. The pizzas are made with fresh, local ingredients, and the pasta dishes are hearty and flavorful. The restaurant also has a good selection of desserts.

Bacaro Quebrado: This small bar is a great place to try traditional cicchetti (small plates). The Cicchetti is served with various dipping sauces, and the bar has a good selection of local wines.

Al Timon: This hidden gem is located in a quiet canal. The restaurant serves fresh and delicious seafood dishes, including grilled fish, risotto with seafood, and pasta with clams. The restaurant also has a lovely view of the canal.

Tips for visiting St Mark’s Basilica

  • Admission to the basilica is free, but you may need to pay for entrance to special parts of the complex, such as the Pala d’Oro altar, the Treasury, St. Mark’s Museum, and the Campanile (Bell Tower).
  • The best time to visit is early in the morning before the crowds arrive.
  • Do not bring heavy bags or backpacks, as there is no place to store them.
  • Dress modestly, as shoulders and legs must be covered.
  • There are many overpriced restaurants in the square, so walk a few blocks away to find a more affordable meal.
  • Be aware of pickpockets and other scams.
  • Take the elevator to the top of the Campanile for stunning city views.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes, as you will be doing a lot of walking.
  • Visit the basilica during the day when the light is good.
  • Stand in the center of the galleries to get the best view of all five domes.
  • Use a zoom lens on your camera to get closer to the details of the mosaics.
  • Be patient and take your time. There is a lot to see and appreciate.

Hotels near St Mark’s Basilica, Venice

Here are some budget hotels near St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice:

  • Hotel Le Isole is a 3-star hotel located just 350 meters from the basilica. It has a quiet courtyard and simple rooms with air conditioning and free Wi-Fi.
  • Hotel Casa Linger is a 2-star hotel located 850 meters from the basilica. It has a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city.
  • Hotel Iris Venice is a 2-star hotel located 1.3 kilometers from the basilica. It has a shared kitchen and free Wi-Fi.

Here are some mid-range hotels near St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice:

  • Hotel Bonvecchiati is a 4-star hotel located just 400 meters from the basilica. It has a spa and a rooftop terrace with views of the city.
  • Hotel Al Codega is a 4-star hotel located 450 meters from the basilica. It has a traditional Venetian courtyard and a restaurant.
  • Hotel Flora is a 3-star hotel located 550 meters from the basilica. It has a garden and a bar.

Here are some luxury hotels near St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice:

  • Hotel Danieli is a 5-star hotel just 300 meters from the Basilica. It has a stunning rooftop terrace with great views of the city.
  • The Gritti Palace is a 5-star hotel located 700 meters from the basilica. It has a luxurious spa and a beautiful garden.

FAQ’s

Can you enter St. Mark’s Basilica for free?

St. Mark’s Basilica is a church that can be visited for free.

However, you need to pay to skip the lines and visit other rooms inside St. Mark’s Basilica, like Saint Mark’s Museum, the Golden Altar, and the Treasury.

The entrance fee to the museum is €16 per person. Buy now!

How do I skip the line at St. Mark’s Basilica?

You can book skip-the-line tickets or guided tours in advance to skip the line at St. Mark’s Basilica.

These options allow you to bypass the regular entrance queue and have a smoother entry into the basilica.

Why do people go to St. Mark’s Basilica?

St. Mark’s Basilica is an important religious church in Venice.

People visit St. Mark’s Basilica to witness its stunning golden mosaics and explore its historical and architectural significance.

Is St. Mark’s Basilica open every day?

St Mark’s Basilica is open daily from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. 

The opening hours are shorter on Sundays and public holidays, so check before you visit.

Can I wear shorts to St. Mark’s Basilica?

No, wearing shorts is not allowed inside St. Mark’s Basilica.

Visitors must dress modestly, covering their shoulders and knees, as a sign of respect for the sacred and religious nature of the site.

Is it worth visiting St. Mark’s Basilica?

Yes, visiting St. Mark’s Basilica is definitely worth it.

The basilica is a masterpiece of architectural beauty and holds significant historical and cultural importance.

Its stunning golden mosaics, intricate design, and rich history make it a must-see attraction in Venice.

Featured Image :Aliaksei skredzeleu

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