Saint-Mark, the Golden Basilica in Venice Italy

Saint-Mark Basilica, Apse's Mosaics, in Venice in Italy
Saint-Mark Basilica Apse's Mosaics
« If S. Mark's strikes us first by the Byzantine character of its architecture, its crowd of domes, the vast width of its façade in comparison with its height, it impresses us next, I think, by its strangely lovely colour, the gold and blue and green and red of its mosaics, colour which changes with every change of the sky, which is one thing in the blaze of a summer morning and quite another on an autumn afternoon after rain, when the sky is still full of cloud and the wind comes in melancholy gusts out of the pale gold of a watery sunset.

I do not know under the influence of which sky, or at what hour of the day or of the night the church is most beautiful ;

Saint-Mark Basilica Facade, in Venice Italy
Saint-Mark Basilica Facade
I only know it is always beautiful : in the golden summer heat or standing amid the winter snow, or in the spring or late autumn when the Piazza has been flooded by the gale in the Adriatic ;

but I think I love it best when the sky clears in the evening, after a day of rain in early autumn, when some delicate and pure light has suddenly fallen upon the world, and the great façade seems for a moment to be made of pearl and mother-of-pearl, to reflect every colour and shadow of a beauty that belongs to the sea.

[…] It is not in such an hour as that after a day of rain that the many will see S. Marco : they desire, and how rightly, a morning of sun, when nothing subtle or vague is to be found in the splendour and glitter of the great church which then greets them with an imperishable smile.

Saint-Mark Basilica's Horses in Venice in Italy
Saint-Mark Basilica's Horses
In that morning hour you are struck, I think, chiefly by the splendour of the building— and it is very splendid—and perhaps after a time by the extraordinary variety, both without and within, of a building that is after all not very large. S. Mark's is but 350 feet long, and at its widest but 168 feet.

It is built in the shape of a Greek cross, and is duly set east and west, north and south, its eastern arm being structurally divided into three parts, each with semicircular apse, of which that in the midst containing the High Altar projects further than the two beside it, originally containing the Chapel of S. Peter on the Gospel side, the Chapel of S. Clement on the Epistle side. »
Edward Hutton - Venice and Venetia - 1911

Back to Top of Page