Located in Venice, Italy, the church was appointed the final resting of Saint Mark the
Evangelist by Doge Giustiniano Partecipazio in 829. The building burnt down in 927,
but was rebuilt between 1043 and 1071 by Doge Domenico Contarini and remains standing to
this day. The church was originally a combination of Byzantine and Romanesque
styles, however, because of several additions and enhancements over the centuries, the
present-day basilica is a mixture of Byzantine, Gothic, Renaissance, and Moorish
styles. For example, the walls are now covered with mosaics and precious marbles,
and the structure of the church has been refined by architectural designs from the Orient.
Approximately 52 meters long, the fašade consists of five rounded arch portals, each supported by several columns. The central arch is larger than the other four, yet all are decorated with intricate mosaics. The mosaic farthest to the left portrays Transporting the Body of St. Mark to the Basilica. The mosaic to the left of the central arch displays The Venetians Pay Tribute to the Body of St. Mark. The mosaic to the right of the central arch represents Arrival of St. Mark's Body in Venice. The mosaic farthest to the right symbolizes Removal of St. Mark's Body from Alexandria. The central mosaic depicts the Last Judgement by L. Querena.
Byzantine bas-reliefs are located between all the arches, they illustrate: Hercules and the Boar, the , St. George, St. Demetrius, the Archangel Gabriel, and Hercules and the Deer. The arches are covered by a terrace, which is surrounded by a railing. Located on the terrace directly above the main arch, are the famous Greek horses. The original horses have been removed because of terrible damage from the weather. They have recently been restored and are on display in the Museum of the Basilica. Duplicates of the horses were created and took their place on the basilica's terrace.
The Atrium is decorated beautifully. It has slightly pointed arches, the earliest of its kind in Italy. The Atrium also supports six small domes. There are marble columns inside that are of various orgin. Some of the columns are supposedly to have come from the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.
The Atrium is covered with golden mosaics. There are mosaics on the arches, lunette recesses, and domes illustrating scenes from both the Old and the New Testaments. The scenes were created during the 13th century by expert Venetian craftsmen.
The interior of the church was designed to form a Greek cross. Each arm of the cross has three aisles separated from one another by round arches upon marble columns. There are five large domes held up by massive pillars. The floor is covered with mosaic designs. There is 4,000 meters of mosaic which cover every surface of the church. Most of the Mosaics were from the 12th to 14th centuries.
The main altar has the remains of the evangelist Mark. Above the altar is the masterpiece, the Golden Altar Screen. This was commissioned by Doge Pietro Orseolo in 978. Later it was restructured in 1105 by Doge Ordelaffo Faliero. It was again embellished in 1209. The Golden Altar Screen measures 11 by 4 1/2 feet. It has eighty enamel plaques surrounded by diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and topazes. It is one beautiful piece of artwork.
1. Serra, Vittorio, All Venice: New Edition, Italy, 1997, BT