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St Mark's Basilica in Venice: all the tips for your visit

Planning what to do in Venice is never a problem, but any visit should include the magnificent St Mark's Square. Take time out with a coffee in one of its iconic cafes before heading to the top of the Bell Tower for splendid panoramic city views. Follow this with a tour of the beautiful St Mark's Basilica.

This mystical Basilica is an architectural blend of East and West and a real example of Venetian opulence, with something to delight the eye everywhere you look. The Basilica stands at one end of St Mark's Square and features a design based on the Greek cross, topped by five spires. It was built to house the remains of Saint Mark after the Venetians brought them back from Alexandria in Egypt. Construction began in the early 9th century, with additions and embellishments made over subsequent centuries. Until 1807, the Basilica served as the Doge's private chapel before becoming Venice's cathedral.

When you first enter St Mark's Basilica, you'll be drawn in by its grandeur before your eyes focus on the magnificent mosaic floor. To create its 'carpet' effect, tiny segments of marble and glass were arranged in floral, animal, and geometric patterns. Among Italy's magnificent mosaic floors, this one stands out for the rarity of the North African marble used and its beautiful enamel elements. Then, let your eyes be drawn up from the floor to the Pala d'Oro, an accomplished piece of decorated enamel that graces the High Altar. Leave yourself time to visit St Mark's Museum, where you can fully trace the Basilica's history while admiring its precious artefacts. 

St Mark's Basilica is open every day of the year between 9.30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Opening hours are shorter on Sundays and public holidays, so check before you visit. Entry is free, but it's possible to skip the entrance queues by buying privilege tickets online for a small charge. If you're tempted by the Basilica, check out our offers on flights from Munich to Venice.