Today we got to explore the insides of what we couldn’t yesterday because it was too late. We went back the San Marco Basilica and toured the church, the museum, the treasury and also the golden altarpiece where nearby is the sarcophagus that holds the bones of the San Marco (St. Mark), that have been here since 830 A.D. All of them have there own fee, I mean haven’t you learned that by now? Everything in Europe has a cost. They were of course very particular not only with what you could wear in the church (see picture) , but also the fact that there was no photography or filming allowed. Chris is good at sneaking some pictures though. P.S. Don’t tell the Italian government or God!
San Marco Basilica and all of it’s contents make up the most beautiful church that I have ever been to in my life. It was built in the 11th century to replace an earlier church that burned down in 976 A.D. It’s style is of the Byzantine Empire and shows how influential Venice was in the East-West trade routes. It is decorated with all the booty from the Crusades that was returned to Venice from victorious sea captains. The exterior is therefore a mish-mash of several different types and colors of marble. The real cool part though are all the mosaics. There are 43,000 square feet of them covering the entire inside/outside of the church. They were originally put there to tell the biblical stories to the illiterate masses. The backgrounds are gold leafed mosaic tiles and in between these are the beautiful mosaic artworks of the saints and old testament heroes. The floor is even made of mosaics, although it is very rippled and bumpy due to the fact that Venice, and in particular San Marco Piazza/Basilica, floods 100-200 times a year. They are currently spending lots of Euro trying to prevent this, but every year the water level gets higher and the ground level gets lower.
Aside from all the sparkley tiles that amazed me, the other thing that was cool was seeing the four original bronze horses that used to be on top the church. The ones that I photographed that are there now are copies as the original ones were getting destroyed by the pollution levels in the air. (Very sad indeed!) The original ones were in the Museum and were amazing. These horses were built sometime during the days of Alexander the Great (4th century B.C.), although carbon dating suggest earlier i.e. 2nd century. They are very well travelled. They were taken to Rome by Nero, then Constantinople/Istanbul by Constantine, then Venice by Crusaders, then Paris by Napoleon, and then back to Venice when Napoleon fell. Lots of stamps in their passports! Anyway, it was just cool seeing something that old that has survived through so many moves and sadly the only thing that is really destroying them is modern man.