The Mosaics of St. Mark’s Basilica

Another post about “when it will be over.” 

We are all longing for freedom of movement. We all hope to travel, socializing, and see the world. 

Therefore, when it will be over, let’s not bypass a visit to the most iconic sites in the world. 

The Mosaics of the Basilica of St. Mark

The Basilica of San Marco is the symbol of Venice. It sparkles and shines in front of thousands of visitors every day, except these past sad months. 

Considering that the entrance ticket is free, it would be a real shame to miss the opportunity to enter the “Golden Basilica” and admire the famous mosaics inside.

See here for times and guidance

Inside the Basilica of San Marco

The Venetian Cathedral embodies the magic of the East and the culture of the West: inside it houses an infinite artistic wealth to be discovered. 

The pictorial composition technique of the mosaic has very distant origins. Using pieces of colored glass, enamels and large quantities of gold, the masters of Constantinople began the production of small glass and metal tesserae intended to embellish Venetian palaces and churches.

Inside the Basilica of San Marco, the numerous mosaics embellish domes, aisles, and floors: the golden mantle and the studied chromaticity of the marbles give the eyes a spectacle to contemplate.

The Domes

The central nave of the church tells the story of Christian salvation: looking up, you will find two of the most famous domes of the basilica.

The Ascension dome houses a starry circle where Christ is at the center, carried upwards by four angels in flight. Below, among the golden trees that represent the earthly world, there are the twelve Apostles with the Virgin Mary. The second is the dome of Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit descends in the form of tongues of fire on the apostles.


The Floors 

Upon entering the church, most visitors are inclined to turn their gaze upwards to contemplate the splendid mosaics of the domes, but one should also look down. The floor of the basilica is a work of art with an indefinable value: the mosaics made of precious polychrome marble decorate the floor on which thousands of people have walked upon.

Photography is strictly prohibited. 

Therefore to see the mosaics in all their splendor a visit is necessary and recommended!


Pala D’Oro

On the back of the altar there we can see the Pala d’Oro (“Golden Pall” or “Golden Cloth”); the high altar retable of the Basilica di San Marco in Venice. It is universally recognized as one of the most refined and accomplished works of Byzantine enamel, with both front and rear sides decorated.

It is a real wonder of gold, precious stones, and enamel. 

Probably first commissioned in 976 by Doge Orseolo, where it was made up of precious stones and several enamels depicting various saints, and in 1105 it was expanded on by Doge Falier (Depicted in the image on the center). 


Not to be confused with the other Doge Falier, executed for attempting a coup d’etat. Faliero’s picture in the Great Council Hall at Palazzo Ducale. The black shroud painted in its place bears the Latin phrase, “This is the space for Marino Faliero, beheaded for crimes.”


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I lived the most part of my life in Washington DC, now in Italy getting to know again my country. Plenty of surprises, for good and bad, and lots of nostalgia for DC.

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