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Basilica di San Marco

From: Venice's Top 11 Free Sights

St Mark's Basilica

ABOVE: The gilded mosaic interior of St. Mark's Basilica.

photoThe Basilica di San Marco (in English, St. Mark's Basilica) is both a house of worship and a monument to plunder: It was built to house the bones of St. Mark, whose remains had been stolen from Egypt by a pair of Venetian merchants, and the building is filled with sculptures, religious objects, and other booty that was hauled back from Constantinople and other faraway places during the Christian Crusades.

photoThe cathedral's exterior is a riot of Byzantine architecture, with five domes and more decoration than a nouveau riche wedding cake. The interior is equally spectacular, with gold mosaics that come to life when the church is illuminated from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Entrance to the Basilica is free, though it's polite to leave a donation. You'll need to buy tickets if you want to visit the San Marco Museum, the Treasury, and the Golden Altarpiece. For visitor information, click the article link below.

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Basilica di San Marco

Next page: Venice Waterfront (St. Mark's Basin)

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