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

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 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

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

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

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.

Our insider 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 should I visit?
    9:45AM to 5:00PM, Sundays and Holidays 2:00PM to 4:00PM or 5:00PM, depending on season.
  • Is it expensive?
    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 information
    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

Overall rating
4.4 / 5
based on 13,830 reviews

Wonderful tour and excellent guide for Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s

The combination of Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Basilica after hours made for a wonderful tour. It had started cooling off and there crowds had mostly left so we loved it. Our guide Pam was so good - she was very knowledgeable about Venetian history and these two historic places. And she was very charming. I highly recommend this tour. The walking is moderate and there are some stairs but not a lot. And the stairs were more half-flights at a time which made them easy to get past. And the views from Doge’s are magnificent. St Mark’s is breathtaking with the gold ceiling and we practically had the place to ourselves.

Tour good but too expensive and not flexible

The tour was good and guide informative but for a 20 euro ticket they are charging almost 45 pounds per person for 1.5 hrs which is way too expensive. Also they were not flexible in us joining tour even 3/4 mins later and it was perfectly possible which made as spend another 70 euros in getting us on time (which was only 5 mins earlier) !!

Doge's Palace: Secret Itineraries Skip-the-Line Tour Reviewed by

Incredibly informative tour providing valuable historical insights!

Our guide Francesca was fantastic. She offered wonderful insights into both the building histories as well as Venetian. She maneuvered our group of 20 seamlessly through Summer tourist crowds. I strongly recommend the earlier morning tours as the crowds in the square multiplied over our 3 hour tour.

The perfect tour: most interesting and the 3h. passed without knowing

Next to the most professional guidance by guide Nico (Italian, but with an accent-free English) sharing a lot of interesting information on the history of the city, San Marco Square & Basilica and the Doge's Palace which was absolutely top, also the "skip the line"-option is an absolute must.

Grest early morning skip crowd knowledgeable well spoken guide

Tour was great start to venice trip early 9 am heat heat starting in prisons moving up with great interesting narratives and important facts to remain interesting for the entire time.

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