Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

10:46:00, by Petite Style Beauty

A very interesting tour of the Saint Mark's Basilica of Venice by night, discovering the golden art in this place with LivItaly Tours during the after-hours. #livitalytours #nighttour #saintmarksbasilicavenice #travelblog #travelblogger #goldenmosaics #artinvenice #paladoro #arttour #iliveitaly

Who says that visiting a church is for believers only? - I have to make a premise here before I start my post: I am not a believer.
What I'm most interested in is the history and the art behind the Christianity; thinking that many talented people over the years have put their creativity into something amazing that is art in its purest form, to the service of both the faith in God they had and the privilege to be part of something bigger, all to the greater picture, to be remembered over the centuries by so many souls ahead.
I've always loved art, since - if you recall - I went to the Institute of Arts for my years at school.
That's why I think this tour is for everyone, not only for Christians.

I've been invited from LivItaly Tours, together with a group of selected Bloggers from all around the world: we were Italians and Americans to this fantastic Sain Mark's Basilica Night Tour.
The company is Californian, with base in Rome, and organizes tours in all major attractions in Italy, like Rome, Capri, Florence, and many other places, in different languages for tourists that come to Italy to discover the beauty of this Country.
The thing that distinguishes LivItaly from all other tour companies is that they allow small groups of only 6 people, away from the crowd, for a more dedicated experience that lasts 90 minutes.
I think this is a very strong point when considering booking a tour: you feel special when you can visit a place that normally is full of people and you don't get to see anything.
You can truly feel the vibes in there; you can explore every inch and every corner of the place; you can ask all your questions to the guide; you even get to see the restricted areas to the public.
That's why I am so happy to advise you this company tours, which I will definitely do more of, if I get the chance, in other cities.
If you want to, you can read more about my overall experience in Venice in this post (in Italian language - which you can translate).

We met at Fòndaco dei Tedeschi at 7pm, a luxury commercial center near Rialto Bridge, to go to the rooftop and admire the panorama from there, with a gorgeous sunset. Then, we went to a typical Venetian tavern, where the nicest representatives of LivItaly Tours offered us some Prosecco and "Cicchetti" - small delicious side dishes made with fish, meat or vegetables - and we got to know each other a bit more before the tour. The tour guide has joined us later on, and we moved all together to the Basilica.
It was cold and windy outside. I went there all pretty dressed and in the end, I couldn't take my coat off, not even for a second!
After taking some pictures, like diligent Bloggers do - just kidding! -, the guide started to tell us the history of the Basilica, shown in the portals of the main façade of the church from right to left - as you come from the sea by the right. I think the water level was higher back then.

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

It's not a secret that Christians wanted power. They chose Saint Mark for its importance in the role of being an Evangelist and for the closeness with Christ.
His relics were stolen in the 9th century A.D. with a ploy from two Venetian merchants, who went all the way to Egypt and hide the remains of him into a barrel full of pork meat, so the Muslims - who can't eat it - couldn't find out that the relics were there.
Some years later, the Venetians started to build the Basilica in his honor, preserving his remains that are still there nowadays. The whole story of the Saint and the Old Testament are pictured all the way inside the Basilica as you cross the door.
The building is also named "The Golden Church", due to its 8000 meters of gold mosaics all over it, inside and out, which were made through the centuries as you can perceive different styles in the pictures.
Basically, all of it is a mixture of different eastern and western styles in the architecture and other pieces of art too - most of them are stolen - that makes it like a jumble of precious things, all contributing to the richness of the ensemble.

We made it to the side entrance, reserved exclusively for LivItaly, where the mosaics in the ceilings show the stories in this beautiful yellow gold color, that shines through all the place, showing the opulence of it all.
The lion, symbol of Venice, is often present in the stories.

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

Not only the ceilings are rich, but also the floors are made of marble and precious stones, like lapis lazuli, all arranged to make different geometric shaped bigger mosaics.

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

We then assisted to this gorgeous and magical show of lights, where the lights of the naive were turned off completely, leaving the inside almost totally black, and were turned on slowly, one by one, to let us admire the magnificence of the glittery gold that shines through all around.


(To play the video you might require Chrome or Explorer browser as it seems it's not working on Mozilla)

From there, we saw the most history dedicated wall, that centers more on the actual story of the relics rather than the religious part of it - even if we don't know if that's true or not.
During the route, we noticed a crack in the ceilings, a clear sign of the whole place decadence, since the foundations are not really solid, due to the water corrosion over time.

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

We explored the area close to the altar, that at the time was reserved exclusively to the doge - supreme magistrate of the Republic of Venice - and his court, with a special entrance, that only they could walk through: a direct passage from the residence.
The - very nice and with a very interesting way of talking - guide said the doge always made quite an entrance, with his big hat and long coat all in glittery gold.

A special visit to the crypt, where the remains of Saint Mark were preserved before being taken to the main altar upstairs, and where the patriarchs of Venice are buried.
The ceilings here are much shorter than they originally were, as the floors have been redone much higher during the course of time, as the flooding completely ruined what was there before.
Ultimately, they tried to prevent the water to come in, with a special mixture of concrete inside the slits of the walls.
We admired the piece of art that is the cross made of small pieces of glass, in a characteristic "laguna blue" color, as the waters of the Laguna tend to have that specific color during sunny days, donated by a Murano glass artisan.

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

We then made it back to the altar, where the religious service is held.
A magnificent, yet a bit more dark, structure surrounds the ciborium with its columns made of alabaster, where human figures in high relief are minutely carved by hand.

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

The last piece we saw is the Pala d'Oro, a Byzantine altar screen of gold, turned the opposite way of the common eye and protected by glass.
This is a priceless piece, that gathers enamels representing various evangelists, prophets, apostles and angels, all of different dimensions and from different times. It is also enriched with all sorts of gems, stones and pearls to make it even richer.

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

Saint Mark's Basilica by night with LivItaly Tours

Overall thoughts about the tour
It's an experience you definitely have to make. It's not like when you go visit the place by yourself: you'd really miss a lot like this. The too many tourists will ruin your trip.
Price is €109 per adult, but it's justified by the exclusivity you gain; the after hour access; the small number of people admitted and the special entrance into restricted areas, otherwise impossible to see.

Special thanks to the awesome and well-prepared guide Marie, leading us to the discovery of this incredible place.
The sweetest Louise and Laura from LivItaly Tours for inviting me and the other gorgeous bloggers I really loved to meet:
- Sarah from House of Wend
- Ylenia Francini
- Natalie from An American In Rome
- RoMySpace
- Ilaria from Prontopia
Go give them a follow and read more about their experience too!

Disclaimer: the post is sponsored. All opinions expressed are my own.

17 commenti

  1. This looks so beautiful! What a great tour.

    RispondiElimina
  2. This is so awesome. If I ever make it there, I will definitely check out the tour!

    RispondiElimina
  3. Thanks so much for sharing the beautiful architecture of church.I'd love to hear a choir sing to the high heavens inside of it.

    RispondiElimina
  4. I remember my first impression when i first saw St. Mark basilica, what an amazing and stunning place, loved every bit of it.

    RispondiElimina
  5. I bet seeing this personally is really a different experience. Seeing how huge it is makes me feel little already.

    RispondiElimina
  6. Stunning photos! Italy really has some of the most breathtaking churches that we need to see once in our lives. Thank you for this very informative post!
    -Krisy

    RispondiElimina
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    RispondiElimina
  8. The church looks absolutely stunning. The design is unique. Though 109 sounds a bit pricey for a tour, I would see why one would take it to avoid misding out on anything from the trip.

    RispondiElimina
  9. Sounds like you've had a great trip in that place and really enjoyed learning and knowing the history of it.

    RispondiElimina
  10. The church's architechture is great in every way, it must be a lot of fun to visit this place!

    RispondiElimina
  11. Oh my goodness. I would love love love if I could go on this tour one day. everything looks so beautiful and big. I'm sure you enjoy the tour and learning about the history.

    RispondiElimina
  12. This basilica is gorgeous! Your photos are great in capturing its beauty but I have to admit the real life totally outshines it. Awesome post, thanks for bringing me sweet memories

    RispondiElimina
  13. Wow what a beautiful view and all the architecture details!! I'd love to visit here.

    RispondiElimina
  14. Wow, I think this is completely worth it for the exclusivity and details explained alone. Even in your photos you can see the intricate details. I visited Italy only once in my life and for too short of a time. I am from the Bronx, New York and just seeing the architecture of Rome was the most breathtaking I have seen. I vowed to take my children when they get older. Thank you for a sneak peak into your tour.Ciao bella!

    RispondiElimina
  15. I'd definitely pay to get in after hours and have exclusive access. The fact that there won't be a lot of people would be so worth it.

    RispondiElimina
  16. Nice reading about this tour which can make visiting Saint Mark's Basilica turn informative and fun. You surely had a fabulous time in this artful world.

    RispondiElimina

Thanks for your lovely comments!