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

Venice: The Royal Gardens of Venice are returning to life

giardini-reali
Unknown places & works

Venice never fails to amaze. After the disastrous high tide last November, the city shows its strong pride with the reopening, after ex...

View

Treviso: The curious legends about the origin of Treviso Red Chicory

radicchio_CC.Mon CEil
Did you know that...

Did you know that, according to an ancient popular saying, red chicory (radicchio as it is known in Italy) seems to have been born as a...

View

Venice: Acqua Alta: when a normal phenomenon becomes tragic

Acqua-alta-a-Venezia
Did you know that...

Did you know that ‘Acqua Alta’ is an expression of Venetian dialect used by its inhabitants to describe the high tides that occur p...

View

Venice: Mars, Adam and Eve: the Doge's Palace celebrates their return

restauro-adamo-eva-ducale
Unknown places & works

After four years of delicate restoration work, the three fifteenth-century statues by the great artist Antonio Rizzo will be exceptiona...

View

Top posts

Chioggia: The Valley of the Seven Dead Men

casone-millecampi-detto-casone-dei-sette-morti
Mysteries & Legends

Halloween is just around the corner: have you already got into the fascinating terrifying aura of the scariest party of the year? No ye...

View

Venice: The stone heart of St Mark’s Basilica

cuore-erizzo
Unknown places & works

If you are visiting St Mark’s Basilica and have just abandoned the wonderful vision of the Pala d'Oro (which is a must-see), just a f...

View

Venice: Map of Venice, what to know before you leave

mappa-venezia
Did you know that...

Did you know that Venice is not a single large island but rather a collection of 117 small islands linked together by over 400 bridges?...

View

Verona: The roman walls of Verona

porta-borsari
Historical Curiosities

Verona has always been considered a city of considerable importance from a military point of view: being at the mouth of the Adige Vall...

View