Basilica San Marco
Saint Mark's was formally the private
chapel of the doge (ruler) of Venice. It actually didn't become a Cathedral
(or Basilica) until 1807, ten years after the fall of the Republic, until
then, the Bishop of Venice recided from San Pietro di Castello,
on the eastern outskirts of the city.
In the days of the republic, worshipers
in the church were very much aware that this was the Doges' church and
not the Popes'. Richly ornamented as a showcase for the city-state a law
was passed that every merchant traveling to the Orient had to carry something
back for the church which created a staggering collection of art objects.
The church is named after the patron
Saint Mark -- the evangelist -- his bones are entombed at the church.
The original church had been Romanesque
and built in the 9th century as a shrine for Saint Mark, but it was
destroyed in a fire 967. Byzantine architects then reconstruction the church
with the main core being completed c.1071. In the 12th and following centuries
through alterations and elaborate adornments it became a splendid Byzantine
monument. In the 14th cent. the facade received Gothic additions.
The present structure gives us this mixture between Byzantine and Gothic.
vast and warty bug taking a meditative walk" -- Mark
Twain describing the look of the Basilica.