Architecture Around the World

St. Mark's Basilica - Table of Contents

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

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40,000 square feet of mosaics cover the interior


Mosaics: Pentecost Cupola

Mosaics: Pentecost Cupola

Detail of previous photo

Floor marble mosaics

Mosaic floor

The original four 2,000-year-old bronze horses in the church museum

"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

For a thousand years, Byzantine style pioneered in Constantinople exerted a powerful influence throughout Europe. In Venice, Italy, the Basilica of San Marco is an extravaganza of Byzantine magic.

The interior of St. Mark's is Byzantine in effect, although the domed bays are modified slightly by Western Romanesque elements. The light effects and the rich cycles of mosaics, however, are entirely Byzantine.

St. Mark's Basilica is designed on a Greek cross floor plan and modeled after Constantine's Church of the Holy Apostles (now destroyed) and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Each arm of the Greek cross has a central nave with side aisle; a narthex in the west end provides the flat surface for the grand facade.

Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa.
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