Saint-Mark Basilica in Venice Italy: The Building

Saint-Mark Basilica, Apse's Mosaics, in Venice in Italy
Saint-Mark Apse's Mosaics
This new church was half-destroyed by fire in an outbreak against the Doge in 976.

The body of Saint Mark was buried, lost under the rabble.

The body was rediscovered in 1094.

« At the corner nearest the Ducal Palace are four quaint figures also in red porphyry, which are supposed to represent four emperors who shared the Byzantine throne contemporaneously in the eleventh century, 1068-70—Romano IV., Michele Ducas, and his brothers Andronico and Constantino—as their images appear thus on coins of the period.

Saint-Mark Basilica by Night, in Venice in Italy
Saint-Mark Basilica by Night
But a different origin has often been ascribed to the pillar.

[…] Originally, therefore, let us always bear in mind, S. Mark's was a simple Basilica, to which an atrio-narthex and transepts were in course added, so as to give it the form of a cross.

It was towards the close of the tenth century that the great church we see to-day—the greatest Byzantine building that remains in our possession in Europe, for the Pagans still hold S. Sophia—was begun.

Saint-Mark Basilica, Coupola of Genesis, the creation of the world, in Venice in Italy
Mosaic of the creation of the world
For near a hundred years it was built stone by stone, pillar by pillar, capital by capital, dome by dome, by Byzantine artists. And substantially what we see today is that Byzantine church.

[…] The facade rises in two sections, the lower forming a projecting portico of five doubly-recessed round arches, through each of which the church may be entered.

The main body of the church is of the eleventh century, the gothic additions of the fourteenth, and the restored mosaics of the seventeenth.

Over the central door of the portico stand the four famous Bronze (once gilt) Horses, brought from Constantinople by the Venetians after the fourth Crusade, snatched, as it were, as portion of their share of the plunder derived from the insensate destruction committed by the crusaders there (1204).

Saint-Mark Basilica Floor Marble Mosaics, in Venice in Italy
Saint-Mark's Floor Marble Mosaics
[…] The marbles in S. Mark's make the Roman archeologist enchanted.

Nowhere, except at Ravenna, can he see such a magnificent display of the rare Cipollino Rosso, or red Carystian ; breccia Corallina, Africano (Bigio and Verde), Granito Nero-bianco, porphyry, and verde-antico.

Its innumerable columns are splendid quotations from the architecture of Greece and Rome —the treasures of Asia and Egypt. Above these occur equally precious mosaics.

The earlier mosaics are of the eleventh century, and many of these are of great interest.
Augustus J.C. Hare, St. Clair Baddeley – Venice 1904


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