St Mark's Basilica
:Redirect2|Saint Mark's Cathedral|St Mark's Cathedral|Saint Mark's Cathedral
Infobox religious building
building_name=Saint Mark's Basilica
Basilica di San Marco a Venezia
caption=Saint Mark's Basilica in the evening
Patriarch of Venice
8 October, 1094
Angelo Cardinal Scola
website= [http://www.basilicasanmarco.it/ Basilica di San Marco a Venezia website]
Saint Mark's Basilica (Italian: Basilica di San Marco a Venezia), the
cathedralof Venice, is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture. It lies on St Mark's Square(in the San Marco "sestiere" or district) adjacent and connected to the Doge's Palace. Originally it was the "chapel" of the Venetian rulers, and not the city's cathedral. Since 1807it has been the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. For its opulent design, gilded Byzantine mosaics, and its status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, from the 11th century on the building was known by the nickname Chiesa d'Oro (Church of gold).
The first St Mark's was a temporary building in the
Doge’s Palace, constructed in 828, when Venetian merchants stole the supposed relics of Saint Mark the Evangelist from Alexandria. This was replaced by a new church on its present site in 832; from the same century dates the first St Mark's Campanile(bell tower). The new church was burned in a rebellion in 976, rebuilt in 978 and again to form the basis of the present basilicasince 1063.The basilica was consecrated in 1094, the same year in which the body of Saint Mark was supposedly rediscovered in a pillarby Vitale Falier, doge at the time. The building also incorporates a low tower (now housing St Mark’s Treasure), believed by some to have been part of the original Doge's Palace. Within the first half of the 13th century the narthexand the new façadewere constructed, most of the mosaics were completed and the domes were covered with higher wooden, lead-covered domes in order to blend in with the Gothic architectureof the redesigned Doge's Palace.
While the basic structure of the building has been little altered, its decoration changed greatly over time. The succeeding centuries, especially the fourteenth, all contributed to its adornment, and seldom did a Venetian vessel return from the Orient without bringing a
column, capitals, or friezes, taken from some ancient building, to add to the fabric of the basilica. Gradually, the exterior brickworkbecame covered with various marblesand carvings, some much older than the building itself (see Four Tetrarchs, below).The last interventions concerned Baptistery and St Isidor’s Chapel (1300s), the carvings on the upper profile of the façade and the Sacristy (1400s), the Zen Chapel (1500s).
The key figures
As a "State church", till 1807 the basilica was not subject to the
bishop( patriarchsince 1451), whose cathedral was San Pietro di Castello. The doge himself appointed for celebrations a special clergy led by the "primicerio". The "procurators’", an important organ of the Republic of Venice, were in charge of administration; their seats were the Procuratie, in St Mark’s Square. All building and restoring works were directed by the "proto": great architects such as Jacopo Sansovinoand Baldassarre Longhenahad this title. Procurators and proto still exist and accomplish the same tasks for the Patriarchate.
The exterior of the basilica is divided in three registers: lower, upper, and
domes.In the lower register of the façade five round-arched portals, enveloped by polychrome marble columns, open into the narthex through bronze-fashioned doors. Above the central door round three bas-reliefcycles of Romanesque art. The external cycle frames a 19th century gilded mosaic (Last Judgment) that replaced a damaged one with the same subject (during the centuries many mosaics had to be replaced inside and outside the basilica, but subjects were never changed). Mosaics about St Mark relics’ stories are in the lunettesof the lateral portals; the first on the left is the only one in the façade preserved from the 13th century.In the upper register, from the top of ogee arches, statues of Theological and Cardinal Virtues, four Warrior Saints and St Mark watch over the city. Above the large central window of the façade, under St Mark, the Winged Lion (his symbol) holds the book quoting "“Pax Tibi Marce Evangelista Meus” ". In the lunettes of the lateral ogee arches are four gilded mosaics renewed in the 17th century. In the center of the balcony the Roman Horses face the square.
The Greek Horses
Horses of Saint Markwere installed on the basilica in about 1254. They date to Classical Antiquity; by some accounts they once adorned the Arch of Trajan. The horses were long displayed at the Hippodrome of Constantinople, and in 1204 Doge Enrico Dandolosent them back to Venice as part of the loot sacked from Constantinoplein the Fourth Crusade. They were brought to Paris by Napoleonin 1797but returned to Venice in 1815. After a long restoration, since the 1990s they have been kept in St Mark’s Museum (inside the basilica). The horses now on the facade of the cathedral are bronze replicas.
The Four Tetrarchs
As the Roman Empire began the process of disintegration, Emperor
Diocletianimposed a new Imperial office structure: a four co-emperor ruling plan called The Tetrarchy. This porphyry statue represents the inter-dependence of the four rulers. It was taken from Constantinople, during the Fourth Crusadein 1204, and set into the south-west corner of the basilica (the above mentioned low tower) at the level of the Piazza San Marco. The missing foot of one of the figures was discovered in Istanbul in the 1960s, where it is still on display.
narthexembraced the western arm of the basilica on the three sides; later the southern part was closed to obtain the Baptistery (1300s) and the Zen Chapel (1500s).The narthex prepare the visitors’ eyes to the suffused atmosphere of the gilded interior, just like the Old Testament stories represented in its mosaic ceiling prepare to the Gospel of the basilica’s. The main subjects are Genesis and the life of Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses. Beside the main portal remain the Evangelists, 11th century mosaics that decorated the entrance to St Mark’s even before the narthex was built.
The interior is based on a Greek cross, with each arm divided in three naves and emphasized by a dome of its own. This is based on Justinian's Basilica of the Apostles in Constantinople. The marble floor (1100s, but underwent many restorations) is entirely tessellated in geometric patterns and animal designs. The techniques used were
opus sectileand opus tessellatum. The lower register of walls and pillarsis completely covered with polychrome marbleslabs. The transition between the lower and the upper register is delimited all around the basilica by passageways which largely substituted the former galleries.
The eastern arm has a raised presbytery with a
cryptbeneath. The presbytery is separated by an iconostasis(altar screen, typical of Byzantine churches): this is formed by eight red marble columns crowned with a high Crucifix and statues by Pier Paolo and Jacobello Dalle Masegne, masterpiece of Gothic sculpture (late 14th century). On the right is the ambofrom which the newly-elected doge appeared. Behind the iconostasis, marble banisters with Sansovino's bronze statues of the Evangelists and Paliari's of the Four Doctors mark the access to the high altar, which contains St Mark’s relics. Above the high altar is a canopy (“ ciborium”) on columns decorated with remarkable relieves; the altarpieceis the famous Pala d'Oro(Golden Pall)  , a masterpiece of Byzantine craftsmanship, originally designed for an antependium. The choir stalls are embellished with inlaying by Fra Sebastiano Schiavone, and above them on both sides are three relieves by Sansovino.
Behind the presbytery are the sacristy and a 15th century church consecrated to St Theodore (the first patron saint of Venice) where is displayed a painting (Child’s Adoration) by
On the right of the iconostasis is the
ambofrom which the newly-elected doge appeared. In the left aisle are St Clement’s chapel and the Holy Host altar. Here is the pillar where St Mark’s relics were rediscovered in 1094, as depicted in the interesting mosaics of the right aisle (where the entrance to St Mark’s Treasure is).
On the left of the iconostasis is the ambo for the Holy Scripture reading; on the right aisle are
St Peter’s chapel and the Madonna Nicopeia, a venerated Byzantine icon. On the northern side are St Isidor’s chapel and the Mascoli chapel.
The upper order of the interior is completely covered with bright
mosaicscontaining gold, bronze, and the greatest variety of stones. The decorated surface is on the whole about 8000 m2. In the most ancient works, both Byzantine and Gothic influences can be recognized, as for example in the Saints from the 11th century between the windows of the apse. In the vault above is a mosaic with Christ Pantocrator. From the apse towards the entrance (from east to west) one can contemplate the history of Salvation in the domes: the Prophets, the Ascension and the Pentecost (Whitsun). The domes over the transept are called St John’s (stories of St John the Evangelist) and St Leonard’s (with other saints). In the vaults between the domes are represented episodes of Jesus’ life.As mentioned above, restorations and replacements were often necessary thereafter, and great painters such as Paolo Uccello, Andrea del Castagno, the Veronese), Jacopo Tintorettoand his son Domenico took part drawing the cartoons. Tizianoand the Padovaninoprepared the cartoons for the sacristy, built in the late 1400s. Other remarkable mosaics decorate the Baptistery, the Mascoli Chapel, St Isidor Chapel and the Zen Chapel.
Music at St Mark’s
The spacious interior of the building with its multiple choir lofts was the inspiration for the development of a
Venetian polychoral styleamong the composers appointed maestro di cappellaat St Mark's. The style was first developed by a foreigner Adrian Willaertand was continued by Italian organists and composers: Andrea Gabrieliand his nephew Giovanni Gabrieliand Claudio Monteverdi.
* Guida d’Italia del Touring Club Italiano – Venezia. 3° ed
* M. Da Villa Urbani. La Basilica di San Marco. 2001, Storti Edizioni, Venezia.
* S. Vianello (a cura di) Le chiese di Venezia. Electa, 1993
* St Mark the Evangelist
St Mark's Campanile
John Wharlton Bunney
* [http://www.basilicasanmarco.it Cathedral of San Marco, Venice]
* [http://www.museosanmarco.it/ San Marco Museum]
* [http://maps.google.com/maps?q=venice,+italy&ll=45.434486,12.339320&spn=0.003004,0.010274&t=k&hl=en Satellite image from Google Maps]
* [http://imagelinka.com/v1/view.jsp?id=175 Visit St Mark's Basilica at imageLinka]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Saint Mark's Basilica — or San Marco Basilica Church in Venice built to house the remains of St. Mark. The basilica originally built for this purpose, begun in 829, was burned during a revolt in 976; the present structure, one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe,… … Universalium
Basílica de San Marcos — Tipo Catedral Basílica Advocación San Marcos … Wikipedia Español
Mark the Evangelist — Saint Mark the Evangelist Coptic icon of Saint Mark Evangelist, Martyr Born 1st century AD Cyrene, Pentapolis of North Africa … Wikipedia
Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua — The Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua (Italian: Sant Antonio da Padova ) is the largest church in Padua, Italy. Although the Basilica is visited as a place of pilgrimage by people from all over the world, it is not the titular cathedral of the… … Wikipedia
basilica — /beuh sil i keuh, zil /, n. 1. an early Christian or medieval church of the type built esp. in Italy, characterized by a plan including a nave, two or four side aisles, a semicircular apse, a narthex, and often other features, as a short transept … Universalium
mark — mark1 /mahrk/, n. 1. a visible impression or trace on something, as a line, cut, dent, stain, or bruise: a small mark on his arm. 2. a badge, brand, or other visible sign assumed or imposed: a mark of his noble rank. 3. a symbol used in writing… … Universalium
Mark — Contents 1 Business 2 Christianity 3 Currency 4 Geography … Wikipedia
Mark — /mahrk/, n. 1. one of the four Evangelists: traditionally believed to be the author of the second Gospel. 2. the second Gospel: to read aloud from Mark. 3. King, Arthurian Romance. ruler of Cornwall, husband of Iseult and uncle of Sir Tristram. 4 … Universalium
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception — View of the east side of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Basic information Location 400 Michigan Ave NE … Wikipedia
Basilica of St. Louis, King of France — Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France Basic information Location … Wikipedia