The tour of St Mark's Basilica in Venice we are proposing will lead you to the discovery, via an exclusive itinerary not available to other visitors, of the magnificent and lesser known treasures of St Mark’s Cathedral.
St Mark’s Basilica in Venice is famous throughout the world but few know that this Cathedral houses many treasures that have still to be discovered…
From the start of the St Mark’s Cathedral and its Treasures tour you will feel privileged: you will be seated in the centre of the basilica and you will listen to a description of the fascinating and thousand-year long history of St Mark’s Cathedral in Venice.
After the history introduction our visit of the basilica will continue to two locations usually closed to the public: St Mark's Baptistery and the Zen Chapel.
In the centre of St Mark's Baptistery you will be able to admire one of the most significant examples of Gothic sculpture in Venice - the tomb of Andrea Dandolo, Venice’s last Doge buried in St Mark’s Cathedral - the gravestone and the splendid baptismal font of Jacopo Sansovino, the most prominent architect of the Venice Republic in the 16th century. The former comprises of three rooms heavily decorated with 14th century mosaics depicting the life of John the Baptist and the childhood of Christ.
The visit of St Mark’s Cathedral will continue with the access to the Zen Chapel, except for cases in which the phenomenon of high water will make access to this area impossible due to the necessary preservation of the Basilica artworks.
Despite the chapel being a significant example of Renaissance art, its mosaics – depicting stories from St Mark’s life – are to be traced to the original monumental entrance of St Mark’s Cathedral and can be dated back to the 13th century. Converted into a chapel in honour of the Cardinal Zen, who donated a large sum to St Mark’s Cathedral, this place was once the former entrance into the basilica from the shore.
The tour will then carry on with the visit of the famous Treasure of St Mark’s Cathedral, housed in two rooms representing the only remaining relics of the former Venice’s Doge’s Palace of the 9th century.
The left hand side room houses a vast collection of relics of St Mark’s Cathedral and during the visit the most important ones from the an artistic and religious point of view will be highlighted.
In the right hand side room, you will be able to admire splendid liturgical objects, the oldest and most precious ones being of Byzantine origins, housed inside glass cases to protect them from the passing of time.
The treasure of St Mark’s Cathedral comprises of 283 pieces, amongst them Islamic art and objects of Byzantine art – unique pieces in the world – all brought to Venice after the looting of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204. The remaining objects represent gifts donated to St Mark’s Basilica or purchased over the centuries.
After these exclusive visit, the St Mark’s Cathedral and its Teasures tour will move to the focal point of the basilica, the major altar, to admire the splendid 13th century alabaster columns that support the ciborium enshrining St Mark’s remains.
Finally, the tour will be concluded with a description of the Pala d’Oro (Golden Pall) , object of inestimable value and artistic beauty.
The Pala d’Oro can be rotated via a special device and shown to the public during the most important celebrations of the liturgical calendar, whilst it remains hidden at all other times behind the Jacobello da Fiore’s Pall, a renowned master of the late gothic painting in Venice.
St Mark’s Pala d’Oro in Venice is composed of gilded silver strips and decorated with precious stones and enamels painted - with a technique called émail cloisonné – and it is considered one of the most precious objects in the world. It. Assembled at different times starting in 1000 A.D., St Mark’s Golden Pall was completed in 1345 with the etching of 1927 precious stones by the master goldsmith Buoninsegna.