Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee!
Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Basilica di San Marco, Venice (must see)

By far the main draw for tourists visiting Venice, Basilica di San Marco was built in 832 AD to house the remains of the city’s patron St Mark. According to a legend, two Venetian merchants smuggled the holy man’s remains from its shrine in Alexandria, Egypt in the barrels of pork meat which they knew the Muslim guards would never touch. This proved to be a stroke of genius as it prevented the precious relic from being desecrated by the Muslim rulers of Egypt. St Mark himself is said to have been greeted by an angel who appeared to him on the night he took shelter in the lagoon, with the words “Peace be with you Mark, my Evangelist. Here shall your body rest”. Credible or not, but over the years this legend has inspired many works of art.

Two more centuries later, a new sumptuous church was built on the foundations of an earlier one and was consecrated when St Mark’s body was interred here beneath the high altar. This new basilica was modeled after the celebrated Church of the Apostles in Constantinople, and as such, for all intents and purposes, was a Byzantine church. To enhance its opulence, the structure was subsequently clothed in marble and mosaics depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments, as well as the lives of Christ, Virgin Mary and St Mark himself.

The best time to visit the basilica is around midday when all the golden mosaics adorning the vaults, walls and cupolas are illuminated and are most spectacular. Entry to the basilica is free but you can pay a small fee just to skip the line and book a time slot.

Inside, there are also a number of things you can see for a separate fee, such as the Golden Altar, the Museum, the Treasury, and the Crypt. It is also definitely worth paying to go up to the first level just to gaze at the interior and the square outside from an elevated point, or you might as well want to come on a night tour when the basilica is closed to the public and have pretty much the entire place to yourself.

Why You Should Visit:
Exceptionally beautiful blend of Byzantine and Western art!
The grandiosity of the mosaics and the wealth of the 'treasure room' will make you realize how powerful Venice was in its golden days.

Tip:
The lights are on only for limited times during the day (11:30-12:30) so make sure you time your visit so you can see/appreciate the beauty of the mosaics.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-5pm; Sun: 2-4pm (until 5pm during the summer months)

This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour of Venice, Italy within the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" which can be downloaded from iTunes App Store or Google Play. Please download the app to your mobile phone or tablet for travel directions for visiting this sight. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Basilica di San Marco on Map

Sight Name: Basilica di San Marco
Sight Location: Venice, Italy
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Venice, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Venice

Create Your Own Walk in Venice

Creating your own self-guided walk in Venice is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Around Rialto Bridge 1

Around Rialto Bridge 1

The Rialto area first appeared in documents dating back to the 9th century. It was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1514; the only structure left standing was the church of San Giacomo di Rialto. Today Rialto is a busy shopping district with a daily vegetable and fish market, several historic sights, plus a wide variety of shopping and dining options. Part 1 of the Rialto Bridge walk takes...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.5 Km or 0.3 Miles
Casanova's Venice

Casanova's Venice

One of Venice's most famous personalities, Giacomo Casanova is remembered today as a womanizer, but was much more than that. Born in a family of theater actors in 1725, he came through as highly intellectual and very sharp from his very childhood, having become in his time an erudite scholar, a diplomat and spy, and a metropolitan avant la lettre, who frequented the high society and seduced...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 Km or 2.8 Miles
Religious Edifices Walking Tour

Religious Edifices Walking Tour

A country like Italy, especially a city like Venice, has a lot of sacred sites. It would be a pity not to take a look at some of the wonderful buildings built by humans in the name of the Lord. Glorious artists, architects and their disciples have given their lives and talent for our pleasure for centuries. Follow this self guided walk to visit some of the most significant religious edifices in...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Romantic Spots

Romantic Spots

Venice is one of the most romantic cities in the world, a perfect destination for honeymoons, proposals and romantic trips. Most if not all streets, canals and quiet corners of this city are pervaded with emotion, sentiment, and passion. If you are traveling with your loved one, follow this self-guided walk that covers some of the best places where you can enjoy a magic moment together.

Getting...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Murano Island Walking Tour

Murano Island Walking Tour

Murano is often called the Glass Island, since it is home to the most impressive and renowned Venetian glass factories. The master craftsmen here have preserved their centuries-old techniques, and the island is full of shops where you can admire and purchase their adorable glass items. Some factories have special showrooms where you can see the full process of glass-making firsthand. Follow this...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
San Marco District Walking Tour

San Marco District Walking Tour

San Marco is one of the six districts of Venice, set in the very heart of the city. It is known primarily as the home of the eponymous Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) and other notable locations, such as Saint Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace, Harry's Bar, the Palazzo Dandolo, San Moisè, the La Fenice Theatre, the Palazzo Grassi and several churches. Once the seat of...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


15 Distinctively Italian Things to Buy in Venice

15 Distinctively Italian Things to Buy in Venice

Venice has been a tourist mecca for over a century now, with millions of visitors flocking in every year to see this unique place on the face of the Earth. Many, if not all, of these people seek to obtain something memorable as a token of their stay in this city. By far, not all of them know which...