This exclusive group tour (never more than 15 people) offers a truly privileged visit to St Marks - the crowds have gone, the doors have been closed, the lighting has changed and, to top the unique atmosphere, you'll also be given access to areas that are closed to day-time visitors.
Your small-group tour of St Mark's will be led by a dedicated, professional, english-speaking tour guide who will leave you with a fully-informed understanding of this building, its decoration, and its remarkable history - the tour 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 Byzantine art, and how the cathedral began life as a simple church to the Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale). Uniquely, you'll be given access to the crypt, built in the 9th century to house the body of Saint Mark.
The tour starts in St Marks Square where the scene will be set with a historical introduction to the square and the cathedral, a framing of the time when Venice was the meeting point, the crossing point of the East and West. The doors to St Marks will then be opened especially for your group (remember, no more than 15 at a time) and, clear of crowds and with special lighting turned on, you'll be able to fully soak up the splendour of more than 8,000 square metres of gold mosaic.
The crypt area, ordinarily closed, is part of the original church lying under the cathedral, built in the 9th century; here, as with the rest of the tour, your guide will be imparting tales of history and legend, giving a true insiders insight into this literal treasure-trove.
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.
The tour lasts 90 minutes and always takes place in the evening, at various times from 7:00 to 9:15 PM - it's only available certain days of the month, so please check the calendar for dates and times.
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