The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Byzantine Art

Why is Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice considered an example of Byzantine architecture?

During the pre-modern era, the Italian city of Venice had many political and cultural ties to the regions east of Italy, and was therefore quite influenced by the culture and art of the Byzantine Empire. Saint Mark’s Basilica is a grand architectural example of this influence, and was especially inspired by the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. The basilica, whose chapel holds the relics of Saint Mark the Apostle, is divided into five sections, each topped with a dome. The interior walls are covered in marble and over eight thousand square feet of glittering mosaics, many of which illustrate stories from the life of Saint Mark. The style is similar to that of Byzantine mosaic designs found at San Vitale in Ravenna, and other eastern European churches. The mosaics were a work in progress for hundreds of years and the basilica was consecrated as a cathedral in 1807.


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