St. Mark’s Basilica: Things to See and Other fun facts | Venice Vacation Tips

For centuries, Italy has been a magnet for historians, artists, and the religious alike, many of whom come to tour while on a Venice vacation.  With an estimated sixty thousand churches that are spread out from border to border, and St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice is often at the top of the list. The church is one of the most impressive in northeastern Italy because of the gorgeous city of Venice in which it is located, as well as the jaw dropping architecture and rich tradition. No Italy vacation can be considered complete without a visit to the remarkable St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.


The gorgeous city of Venice has long been a popular vacation destination that still romances tourists with weathered stone bridges, gondola rides, and a complex grid of canals and waterways. A trip to Venice makes for a dreamy honeymoon, family vacation, or even a fun girls’ getaway. Make time on your itinerary to visit one of a kind landmarks such as St. Mark’s Basilica, take an early evening gondola ride around the city, participate in a local food tour, or even go on a wine tasting tour.

In addition to touring the heart of Venice, visitors may also want to plan a quick trip to the nearby islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. Water buses run frequently allowing travelers to see the glassblowing demonstrations in Murano, the handmade lace of Burano, and the mosaic art of Torcello.

While there is no shortage of things to do in this magnificent city that is really a series of islands separated by waterways such as the Grand Canal, tourists often find themselves inexplicably drawn to the impressive grandeur of St. Mark’s Basilica.

St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice

Upon seeing St. Mark’s Basilica in person for the first time, it is not uncommon to suddenly feel breathless and overwhelmed with its impressiveness. There is not likely to be any other structure in Venice that leaves an immediate and lasting impression the way St. Mark’s does.

St. Mark’s Basilica has beginnings that can be traced back to the eleventh century, but the structure has undergone several rounds of renovations in the years since. One of the most iconic symbols of the façade of this church is its Gothic style roofline that features a handful of ornate domes, mini towers, and angelic statues.

The intricate details and themes of grand arches and gold that appear on the façade of the building also carry over to the interior of the church. Throughout the church visitors will find touches of gold woven through mosaics and other fine details all of which help the basilica earn its nickname of Chiesa d’Oro or Church of Gold.

The interior of the church is as elaborate as the exterior, if not more so. Domed ceilings that arch several stories above the ground floor make the main room of the church feel like a gigantic great hall. A plethora of golden hued mosaic tiles almost blanket the inside of the basilica and exquisitely detail people and scenes from the Bible. There is beauty in almost every corner of the church so make arrangements to spend ample time inside the basilica to truly appreciate its grandeur.

The Pala d’Oro is an exceptional example of Byzantine art inside St. Mark’s Basilica that is held in high regard as a masterpiece across the globe. It stands behind the sarcophagus of St. Mark and is made from a breathtaking combination of silver, gold, plaques, and almost two thousand stunning gems including sapphires, pearls, emeralds, rubies, and more that come together to depict various phases of Christ’s life.

St. Mark’s Museum is a nineteenth century addition that is home to a number of religious relics such as liturgies, manuscripts, and mosaic fragments. When wandering the museum to examine priceless pieces of art and history of which some are centuries old, visitors can feel as though they have been transported back in time.

The Campanile, or original bell tower of St. Mark’s Basilica was centuries old before the bell tower suffered destruction from fires resulting from lightning strikes and then eventually collapsed in the early twentieth century. Today visitors can find the relatively new bell tower to be a close replica of the original. The towering red brick structure features a handful of bells, all of which signaled various historic events. If you are able, a climb to the top of St. Mark’s bell tower is a phenomenal experience that offers simply amazing panoramic views of the city of Venice and beyond.

Fun Facts About St. Mark’s Basilica On Your Venice Vacation

This historical church, whose roots can be traced back centuries, is home to more than just history—it is home to a number of unique nuances that make for fascinating fun facts for adults and kids alike.

  • Mark’s Basilica features an estimated five hundred plus columns and capitals that date from a wide span of centuries. Can you find them all?
  • This basilica is blanketed with so many thousands of square feet of mosaics that it is estimated to be enough to cover an American football field one and a half times. That is a lot of mosaic tiles.
  • Don’t forget to look down. The floor of the basilica features gorgeous geometric patterns of marble.
  • The natural daylight or lack thereof can change the look of the mosaics depending on the time of day you visit. When the sun is shining brightly, many of the mosaics take on a vivid and gleaming quality. Interior lights of the church can make visitors feel as though the mosaics are softly glowing.
  • There is a dress code. Visitors are asked to refrain from wearing shorts or tank tops and there are usually restrictions on large bags.
  • Mark’s Square which sits just in front of St. Mark’s Basilica is often a hub of activity with live music and friendly pigeons.