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St Marks Cathedral treasures - guided tour

This limited group tour (never more than 25 people) offers both an informed insiders view of the wonders of St' Marks and a chance to visit the Zen Chapel, one of the Basilica's treasures that is ordinarily off-limits to visitors.

St Mark's is obviously on the must-see list for all visitors to Venice, but few leave with such a treasured insight into its treasures, and many see the queues and content themselves with some external photographs ... this is a fully-inclusive skip-the-lines tour that also features a viewing of the stunning Pala d'Oro.

San Marco is the self-evident religious heart of Venice and the Basilica (cathedral) is testimony to both this and the enormous wealth of the long-lived Venetian Republic. This tour will uncover the secrets of St Mark's, the story behind the building and its treasure trove of art, and how the cathedral began life as a simple church to the Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale).

The tour begins with a historical introduction before moving on to the baptistery and then the Zen Chapel. This can only be viewed as part of a guided tour and is a splendid example of renaissance art and craft, with mosaic work that predates the current building to the time when this formed part of the principal entrance. Next it's the treasury, two rooms that are the only remaining sections of the original Palazzo Ducale; here your guide will focus on the noted collection of liturgical pieces and relics. There are almost 300 pieces here including many Islamic and Byzantine pieces dating to the sacking of Constantinople.

After admiring the high altar area it's time for what is probably the crowning glory, the Pala d'Oro, quite possibly one of the most valuable objects in the world! Made of siver-gilt leaves and decorated with cloisonné enamel work and precious stones, it is by the great goldsmith Buoninsegna and was completed in 1345. It is actually the backdrop to the altar but is usually hidden, being maneuvered into place only for grand occasions and celebrations.

Once the tour is over you're free to remain inside and explore independently, opening hours permitting.

« Full range of St Marks Basilica, Venice

At a glance details:

  •     This is a full 'skip-the-queue' ticket.

  •     This tour is never more than 25 people.

  •     This tour lasts approximately one hour.

  •     Includes entrance to the Zen Chapel, usually closed to visitors.

  •     Voucher must be printed. You must print these vouchers in order to exchange them for your tickets - an email or a copy of the voucher on your phone or mobile device will not suffice.

  •     Wheelchair accessible.

  •     Please remember that as the tour includes a visit to religious places that you'll need to dress respectfully - to not do so risks being denied entrance.

  •     The meeting point for this tour is at the Basilica - full details will be on voucher.

  •     The date and time of your visit cannot be modified so please be sure to arrive on time - it's recommended that you're there at least 15 minutes before start time.

    St Marks Cathedral treasures - guided tour

    4.8 stars out of 5 from 8 ratings.

    5 stars
    MP, United Kingdom (Great Britain)
    18th Aug 2018
    Very good tour, learned a lot of new things.
    5 stars
    TH, United States
    20th Jun 2018
    A great tour! Our guide was knowlegable & experienced. The behind the scenes & back of altar viewing were magnificent. Tourists wearing shorts or sleeveless tops can purchase disposable gowns prior to entry. You will not be able to enter without the appropriate attire: knee length skirts & fully covered shoulders, no midriffs exposed.
    5 stars
    SC, United States
    30th Mar 2018
    One of the best tour I have taken!
    5 stars
    TB, United Kingdom (Great Britain)
    8th Mar 2018
    again a great experience
    4 stars
    VE, United States
    1st May 2018
    I enjoyed the tour very much and it was worth paying the money for the tour.