Architecture Around the World

St. Mark's Basilica - Table of Contents

Exterior - St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)
Plaza San Marco, Venice, Italy
TEXT Beneath Illustrations

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Piazza (Square) San Marco, including the Campanile

Byzantine facade: five vaulted doorways

Saint Mark

Swelling, wooden, helmetlike forms sheathed in gilded copper

Four 2,000-year-old bronze horses are copies

Marble ornamentation in the tympanum


Elaborate stone tracery



Compound arch

  • Carved soffit
  • Marble columns

Carved soffit

Carved soffit


Relief of Hercules (note lion skin)

St Mark's Basilica is the most famous of the many churches of Venice and one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture in the world.

Located just off the Grand Canal, the gleaming basilica dominates Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) and adjoins the Doge's Palace. San Marco is a cathedral: it has been the seat of the Archbishop of Venice since 1807.

"The church was begun around 830, intended to display the remains of the apostle Mark, which had been spirited away from Alexandria by Venetian merchants. It houses miscellaneous plunder, since trading ships were charged with bringing home loot to embellish the edifice. Among the booty are four Roman gilded-bronze horses, stolen from the hippodrome in Constantinople during the fourth crusade in 1204." - The Annotated Arch, by Carole Strickland. Pub. by Andrews McMeel, 200, p. 35

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa.
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