St Mark's Basilica, or as the Italians call it Basilica di San Marco, is sited in the same named district San Marco and used to be the most significant church in Venice for a very long time.
The construction of the basilica started out in 1063 after the predecessor church was entirely destroyed by a fire. Since 1807 the church has been the seat of the patriarch of Venice. The basilica's name is derived from the fact that the remains of St Mark have been kept in the church since the 9th century. These were brought here from Alexandria by sailors.
St Mark's Basilica is decorated and ornamented a lot. There are many pillars placed in the church that were brought here as war booties to demonstrate the power of Venice. Another famous decoration of the church are the Horses of Saint Mark. These were captured during a military campaign in Constantinople and thereafter placed at St Mark's Basilica in Venice. Nowadays, the horses are only replicas. The real ones are exhibited in the museum Museo Marciano.
The Basilica di San Marco contains one of the largest coherent mosaics. For a long time, the church also bore the name “golden basilica” as a lot of gold was processed in its mosaics, all of which depict the entire salvation history of Christianity.
The original campanile of San Marco was not preserved as it collapsed during an attempt to built a lift inside in the 20th century. In the years to follow, the tower was then reconstructed from its original building bricks.
How to get there
St Mark's Basilica is best reachable, as most parts of Venice are, by the canal.
By vaporetto/ gondola
Hop on one of the many vaporetti, the city's ships for public transport, or alternatively a gondola and get off at the stations “Vallaresso San Marco” or “San Zaccaria”.
Buses and subways are almost non-existent in the city of Venice, but you may explore the alleys just by walking. It's almost impossible to miss the Basilica of Saint Mark.