Visit the extraordinary cathedral of Venice after hours in a small group
Price 109 €
There’s nothing quite like seeing Venice bathed in moonlight. As night descends on the city’s twinkling canals, the captivating charms of the Serenissima have to be seen to be believed. On this special night tour of Saint Mark’s basilica, we’ll have the rare chance to visit Venice’s extraordinary cathedral after dark, getting up close and personal with the church's spectacular artworks without the crowds. In the company of an expert guide you’ll learn all about the story of Saint Mark and the history of Venice, as well as how the basilica rose to become the city’s most iconic landmark. Come face-to-face with the precious Pala d’Oro, and gaze up at the basilica’s world-famous mosaics, beautifully illuminated by state-of-the-art lighting. On our exclusive tour we’ll also get to visit the crypt, final resting place of the patriarchs of Venice.
No visit to Venice is complete without exploring the city’s magnificent basilica, which has stood at the centre of Venetian life for over a thousand years. Inevitably, St. Mark’s can get crowded, and queues to enter the basilica often snake around the square outside. That’s why we think our exclusive night tour of St. Mark’s Basilica is the best way to see the cathedral - we’ll be entering the church after normal opening hours have ended, meaning we won’t have to queue to enter and jostle with other visitors for space. Only very few companies are accredited to offer special night tours of St. Mark’s, so you can be sure that you’ll be able to admire the splendours of the cathedral in peace.
To understand the history of Venice you need to get acquainted with Saint Mark, and on our St. Mark’s basilica tour we’ll be delving into the backstory of the city’s revered apostle. Find out how local bishops asserted an ancient link with Saint Mark in the 8th century, and how Venetian merchants pilfered the apostle’s body from its resting place in Alexandria in an audacious theft a century later.
The story goes that a Venetian fleet was forced to seek shelter in the Muslim-controlled city during a terrible storm. Taking advantage of this twist of fate, the Italian sailors determined to smuggle the body back to their homeland concealed in a barrel of pork fat. The ruse worked, and the relics of the apostle were welcomed by the bishop and doge of Venice in a solemn ceremony. Venice finally had its patron saint. As you enter the church, your guide will point out to you a series of amazing mosaics that immortalise the daring sacred theft.
With its awe-inspiring array of domes, arches and turrets, there is no mistaking St. Mark’s basilica. Dominating the piazza of the same name, St. Mark’s stands at the very epicentre of the city. And it looks even more spectacular at night. On our night tour of St. Mark’s, you’ll meet your guide in beautiful St. Mark’s Square, for centuries the spiritual and political centre of Venice - the Doge’s palace also stands silent watch over the piazza. To start our tour, your guide will explain the significance of the square to the history and geography of the city - for good reason Napoleon described the Piazza as the ‘drawing room of Europe,’ and the elegant cafes that line the square, including Caffe Quadri and famous Caffe Florian, have lost none of their old-world charm.
During our time in the piazza we’ll learn about some of the other highlights on show here, including the stunning Torre dell’Orologio - a Renaissance clock tower decorated with fabulous sculptures, as well as St. Mark’s Campanile, the soaring 12th-century brick bell tower that is still the tallest building in Venice.
Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and important churches in the world, St. Mark’s Basilica is an extraordinary fusion of architectural styles and traditions. Natives of Venice often like to say that their city is where the worlds of East and West meet, and nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the design of St. Mark’s. Begun in the year 1063, the vast church showcased the increasing importance of the Serenissima as a powerful city-state with global reach - its array of domes, vaults and arches are a mix of Romanesque and Byzantine elements, with strong influences too from the Islamic world. On our night tour of St. Mark’s, your guide will unravel the complex history of the church over the centuries.
From the piazza we’ll head into a special entrance of the basilica accessible only to visitors joining a special night tour of St. Mark’s. It goes without saying that we won’t have to wait in line. As it is after hours, the church will be dark when we enter. But then as the lights are turned on one by one, the full majesty of St. Mark’s basilica will be revealed in all its glory. The basilica’s glittering mosaics extend over more than 4,000 square metres, and this jaw-dropping expanse of gold has for good reason given St. Mark’s the nickname of the Church of Gold.
On our tour your expert guide will teach you about the complicated iconography of these mosaics, how they were made and the enormous influence they were to have on the story of medieval art. From the oldest mosaics, crafted in the 11th-century, through the highpoint of medieval artisanship in the 1200s and right up to designs created by Renaissance and Mannerist masters like Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese, you’ll discover how the interior of St. Mark’s traces the story of Venetian art in microcosm.
Although the mosaics are the most famous artistic masterpieces in St. Mark’s Basilica, there is a lot more to discover in this treasure-trove of Venetian art. On our tour we’ll have the chance to get a close-up look at the incredible Pala d’Oro - a 12th-century altar crafted by artisans from Constantinople that is widely regarded as one of the finest Byzantine artworks in existence. Studded with a bewildering array of precious gems and stones and decorated with beautiful enamels, the Pala d’Oro captures the spirit of Venetian spirituality at its most profound. On our St. Mark’s at night tour we’ll also get to admire the stunning 14th-century iconostasis crafted by Jacobello and Pierpaolo Dalle Masegne.
On our exclusive after-hours visit you’ll also be descending into the eerie crypt of St. Mark’s. Usually closed to visitors and accessible only on a special night tour of the basilica like this, as you make your way through this atmospheric subterranean space you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time to the distant world of medieval Venice. The crypt was constructed from the remains of the old St. Mark’s that was destroyed to make way for the current structure in the 11th century, and when the body of Saint Mark arrived a few decades later it was interred here. A series of devastating floods over the centuries damaged the crypt, and we’ll see evidence of this as we explore the underground of the basilica. It was here too that the patriarchs of Venice were buried, and on our tour we’ll see their stone tombs amidst the crypt’s gothic vaults.
For over 20 years Through Eternity have been guiding curious visitors around the most fascinating sites in Italy. With small groups and local guides who are experts in their fields, you can be sure that when you embark on a tour with us you’ll be getting the authoritative full story from guides who know their stuff. All of our tours include entrance fees and reservations, and our decades of experience and expertise ensure that all you need to worry about is enjoying your visit with us!