Hidden treasures

The Crypt of St. Mark's Basilica

Unknown places & works
san-marco-cripta

The Crypt of St. Mark's Basilica

St. Mark's Basilica in Venice is probably one of the most famous and visited churches in the Western world. Every day, thousands of tourists come to its doors to admire the beautiful mosaics and precious marble it preserves inside... Here there are places that have retained a hidden aura of mysterious charm, such as the crypt.

St. Mark's Basilica crypt lies below the presbytery and is accessible from two docks that are not always noticeable... The interior of the crypt is a bit bare but there is an incredible ancient atmosphere!

In 1063 Doge Domenico Contarini commissioned the construction of a new basilica to keep the remains of the Evangelist Mark; the ruins of previous buildings were transformed into a crypt and the new basilica was built above it.

When in 1094 the body of St. Mark was miraculously found, it was placed with full honours inside the crypt. As the water level rose, in 1563 it was considered necessary to raise the crypt floor, but this was not enough to restore the building, so soon the Brotherhood of the Mascol[am1] i, who officiated there, had to move their seat in a chapel inside the Church. In 1604 access to the crypt was closed with seals.

In the following centuries St Mark’s crypt was considered an unhealthy and fetid place... But no one had ever forgotten that there lied the heart of St Mark’s worship: the relic of Marc's holy body. For this reason periodic and unsuccessful reconnaissance efforts were carried out, also to control the Basilica's wall structures, which are constantly in need of verification and consolidation.

In 1811, restoration work finally started, during which the wooden box was discovered, where the Evangelist relics were preserved, which were then moved under the altar of the Basilica.

The crypt was reopened only in 1889; since then it has also been used as a burial place for the Patriarchs of Venice.

The crypt is open to the public on only a few occasions... One of these is our evening guided tour of St. Mark's Basilica: you can access the most important religious building in Venice beyond the usual opening hours to the public and enjoy an intimate and exciting visit that also includes access to this amazing crypt!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Padua: Jacopo Marcello, the Captain who shouldn’t have died

ca-marcello
Big Names

Ca’ Marcello in Piombino Dese, Italy is a beautiful eighteenth-century Venetian villa still inhabited today by the Marcello Counts, a...

View

Venice: What’s the traditional Redentore food?

sarde-saor
Local Traditions

The number one traditional celebration, celebrated every year the third weekend of July, Redentore gives thanks for the end of the terr...

View

Venice: The village of Dolo and its inhabitants

Dolo
Figures of speech

In the province of Venice there is a small village, Dolo, which doesn’t have a great reputation... The dialect expression ‘Ma te vi...

View

Venice: The crypt of the church of San Simeone Piccolo

san-simeone-piccolo-venezia
Unknown places & works

As soon as you leave the train station in Venice, you will see the imposing dome of the church of San Simeone Piccolo, renovated in the...

View

Top posts

Padua: Prato della Valle in Padua

prato-della-valle
Historical Curiosities

Probably only the inhabitants of Padua and a few other people know of a particular record their city is boasting about: having the larg...

View

Treviso: Castelbrando in Cison di Valmarino

castelbrando
Unknown places & works

The province of Treviso offers its visitors many places steeped in history and imbued with charm ... One of these is definitely Castelb...

View

Venice: The tomb of Antonio Canova in the Frari Cathedral in Venice

Tomba_Canova
Mysteries & Legends

When visiting the splendid Frari Cathedral in Venice a pyramid can be seen in front of the church… Why is such a ...

View

Venice: The Empress Sissi in Venice

Sissi
Big Names

The Empress Sissi (1837-18989), the wife of Austria Emperor Francesco Giuseppe of Habsburg, has remained in the collective imagination ...

View