St Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco in Italian) is the most famous of the many churches of Venice and one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture in the world. Located just off the Grand Canal, the gleaming basilica dominates Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) and adjoins the Doge’s Palace. San Marco is a cathedral: it has been the seat of the Archbishop of Venice since 1807.
St. Mark’s Basilica is designed on a Greek cross floorplan and modeled after Constantine’s Church of the Holy Apostles (now destroyed) and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Each arm of the Greek cross has a central nave with side aisle; a narthex in the west end provides the flat surface for the grand facade.
Inside, the first thing you notice are the gilded mosaics that cover the walls and ceilings — an area of around 8,000 square meters.
The 12th-century interior mosaics recount events of the New Testament, with the message of Christian salvation. The 13th-century mosaics depict scenes from the Old Testament, in particular the books of Genesis and Exodus, providing a thematic preparation for the interior.