CategoryFine Arts, History
Good To KnowOpen also Mondays
TipFantastic views of Saint Mark’s Square
Saint Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) in Venice is the most famous of the city’s churches and one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. Situated at the eastern end of Saint Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), next to the Doge’s Palace, originally it was the Doge’s chapel and has only been the city’s cathedral since 1807.
Renowned for its opulent design, gold ground mosaics, and its status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, since the 11th century the five-domed building has been known as the Chiesa d’Oro, or the Golden Church.
The basilica’s four famous horses were installed on the balcony above the portal of the basilica in about 1254. Sent back to Venice by Doge Enrico Dandolo in 1204 as part of the treasures brought back from Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade, they were later taken to Paris by Napoleon in 1797 but were returned to Venice in 1815. Following a long restoration, the originals have since the 1970s been kept in Saint Mark’s Museum inside the basilica with the horses now appearing on the facade of the cathedral being bronze replicas.