Although the population of Venice is less than 53,000, there are nearly 20 million visitors yearly. Without fail, all of these visitors go to Piazza San Marco and most of them visit the Basilica. The 1,200-year-old church is the jewel in the crown of our city, making it an unmissable landmark. Entrance is free, but expect a long wait at peak hours. Saint Mark’s Basilica Night Tour is open on weekdays from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm (the interior is illuminated only from 11:30 am to 12:45 pm), on Sundays, and on holidays after 2 pm (lighting is on during liturgical celebrations). From April to early November, it is possible to buy a €3-skip-the-line ticket.
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Photo by Tiara Aracama on Unsplash
Though so many people make time for a tour of St. Mark’s Basilica, very few people allow the time necessary to enjoy such an admirable landmark. As this landmark deserves a lengthy, relaxed visit, the perfect time to visit is actually at night! Saint Mark’s Basilica night tours and Livitaly offers one of the best options. Use code “prontopia10” for a 10% discount.
The tour begins in the Piazza, where you meet your guide (only the best guides are hired). Livitaly guarantees that the groups are very small, at most 6 people. The guide will outline the history of the church, dating back from the arrival of St. Mark in Venice from Egypt. As it’s a state church (it was the church of the Doge’s Palace) until it became the city cathedral in 1807, its history is tied with that of the city and its maritime power.
The group gets into the church through the dedicated entrance. First, you visit the narthex, the enclosed passage between the entrance and the church itself, with its beautiful mosaics (especially, the one depicting the creation); then, you get into the church. The surreal silence is already breathtaking, since no one else is admitted except for other Livitaly groups (but the visits are so well-arranged that you will not see them).
The best is still to come, though. As the tour guide continues telling riveting tales, they encourage members of the tour to sit. Then, the lighting fades and the ceiling literally lights up. The splendid mosaics are skillfully lit and the effect is mind-blowing. After a few minutes of silent contemplation, the guide will bring you to the crypt. This is another bonus of the tour, as the underground space is not open in the daytime.
The crypt is fascinating. St. Mark’s body was kept there until the sarcophagus was moved upstairs into the main altar, where it remains today. Even though the floor is below sea level, it’s is kept dry thanks to an innovative system of pumps. Back upstairs, the precious Pala d’Oro can be seen up close with its intricate work of gold and gemstones. Though photos are not permitted during the daytime, you can take photos on this night tour.
The tours are in English, but Livitaly also offers them in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Swedish, and Russian. Book your tour here using code “prontopia10” for a 10% discount and send us your feedback. If someone regrets the experience, I’ll become a nun!