Founded in 828, Saint Mark's Basilica is one of the most majestic churches in history
When Venetian merchants stole the relics of the Evangelist Mark from Alexandria in 828, the Serenissima decided to build a new church to shelter this religious treasure. This initial church was finished in 832 but burned in 976 during a riot against a Doge. The Doge Domenico Contarini ordered to build a new and bigger church in 1063, which was completed in 1071. As soon as this new Saint Mark‘s church was completed, the Evangelist was declared the new Patron of the city, instead of the until-then Patron San Teodoro di Amasea.
While the structure (almost) didn’t change since 1071, the succeeding centuries contributed to a continuous change and enrichment of its adornment. Thanks to the Venetian wealth and its trades network, Venetian ships continuously supplied columns, marbles, and sculptures from the east.
The Byzantine influence on Saint Mark’s Cathedral is revealed by the mosaics narrating the life of Saint Mark and episodes from the Old and New Testament.
After the IV Crusade in 1204, where Venice defeated and conquered Byzantium, a further and incredible amount of treasures and masterpieces were taken from the then biggest and wealthiest Metropole in the world and used to enrich even further Saint Mark’s church.
Only in 1807, after the end of the Serenissima and the existence of the Doges, did Saint Mark’s church become the cathedral of Venice. Until then, the church was the private chapel of the Doge’s Palace.
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