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Italy: San Marco basilica

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San Marco basilica | Italy | Europe

[Visited: January 2003 and several times before]

A Byzantine jewel in a Roman Catholic country, San Marco is in several respects a special place. The water that runs around Venice and threatens its future, often also comes right on the doorstep of the San Marco basilica. Walking along the waterfront of Venice, the bell tower of San Marco rises up from a distance, a clear marker for the Venetian skyline. The crowds increase rapidly the closer you get to the famous square - a map is not needed here. There were still provisory and movable walkways on the streets as the square had been inundated days before.

Picture of San Marco basilica (Italy): Venice: detail of San Marco basilica

And then, the square opens itself up to you, with the bell tower on your left and the basilica on the right. As the sun goes down, the light on the basilica grows more intense and warmer, giving it a fabulous glow. This certainly looks different from most other churches in Italy, this is a Byzantine church, reminder of the close ties Venice had with the East Roman Empire. Destroyed twice before, the church as it is now was started in 1063 and serves as Venice's cathedral since the 12th century.

Picture of San Marco basilica (Italy): Bell tower of San Marco, Venice

Inside, the rich mosaics with clearly recognizable Byzantine images, with both Latin and Greek inscriptions, impress any visitor, especially since they have been renovated. The light enters from all sides through windows at the base of all five cupolas. The basilica is constructed as a Greek Byzantine cross, with a cupola on each arm of the cross and one, larger cupola in the middle. Unfortunately, I was too late to go up, but I will do this when I return.

Picture of San Marco basilica (Italy): Statues of roof on San Marco square, Venice
Picture of San Marco basilica (Italy): Detail of San Marco basilica
Picture of San Marco basilica (Italy): Mosaic outside St Marks basilica, Venice
Picture of San Marco basilica (Italy): Cupola inside San Marco, Venice

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