Tourist Guide Venice

St. Mark’s Basilica and Campanile (Bell Tower)

Bell Tower

The Bell Tower may look somewhat old but in fact is relatively young – in Venetian terms by all accounts. The tower dates back to the early 20th century. It is an exact replica of its predecessor which collapsed on the 14th of July in 1902, shortly before ten o clock in the morning. Several days earlier cracks had appeared in the walls of the old tower. This was due to the removal of the metal frame inside of the tower in order to allow the building of an elevator; this was not accomplished however as the entire tower collapsed in on itself, sparking dismay all around the world.

The town council immediately decided to build a replica in its place. On St. Mark’s Day in 1912, on the 25th April the building was ceremoniously inaugurated. Not only is it enjoyable to rattle up the tower but one is also rewarded with a fantastic view of Venice.

St Mark’s Basilica seems like a building that has been covered with frosting. It took hundreds of years for the Basilica to assume its present form. Only in the final stages of construction in the 14th Century was this church of the Venetian patriarchs complemented with gothic-style elements. Everything else was created in a Byzantine style – which of course has a substantial background.

St Mark’s Basilica

Venice was in its glory days a very powerful and influential seafaring republic. The ships were closely linked to the orient and brought luxury items like silk and spices from far away countries. From Venice these much sought after goods were sold throughout Europe and secured the wealth and supremacy of Venice. It is no hence no wonder that as a whole, the main church acts as homage to both Byzantine and the Orient. This was a way of demonstrating to the trade partners in the Far East how valued they were.

The real treasures of the Basilica however are located on its façade and inside the church. Covering a total surface area of over 4,000 square metres are resplendent mosaics that have been incorporated on gold – hence the basilica bears the nickname ‘Golden Basilica’. Some of the mosaic décor originates from the 13th Century. Incidentally, the Dome supposedly houses the remains of St Mark- the patron saint of the city. Who would dare doubt this? Mark is from Jerusalem; Jesus once ate supper in his mother’s house. Mark later became a missionary and was martyred in Alexandria. Venetian sailors took his remains with them at some point and buried them in the Basilica. During one of the many periods of construction, a builder fell off the roof and miraculously survived. Since that point the Basilica has become the patron saint of brick layers. His remains disappeared as a part of the Basilica burned down however thanks to a second miracle were retrieved again, and since then have been greatly revered in Venice.

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