Saint “me” Square (St. Mark’s Square)

img_3511Okay, I didn’t coin the phrase “St. Me Square”.  But, that and “St. Him Square” were terms used frequently during this visit by my traveling companions.

I had booked us a tour of St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace next door for 10:15 Tuesday morning. Alessandria was our guide through the cathedral which started with a climb of a very steep and long staircase to the upper level of the church.  She told us of the history of the church which is amazing to me.

Mark, the gospel writer and evangelist, visited Venice during his ministry.  The story goes that an angel told him to stay in Venice, but he chose to go on to preach in Egypt.  It is said that while he was there he was captured and killed by Arabs.  Many years later, Venice wanted to capitalize on the pilgrimages to the holy land so they sought a relic or major attraction for these pious travelers.  City leaders decided to go “rescue” the bones of Mark form Egypt and return them to Venice where he would stay forever.  (I don’t know if the gospel writer Mark’s remains are in that sarcophagus or not, but I choose think that maybe they are.  And that made the visit for me pretty cool.)


Venice built a small church to house his bones.  Expanded many times over the years, the cathedral is quite large now.  Built on 2000 wooden posts set into the sandy silt beneath Venice, the floor moves like the sea in an extremely slow, imperceptible manner.  We can confirm that the floor was a bit wavy.


The upper portion of the cathedral is covered in gold leaf glass mosaics.  We happened to be in the otherwise quite dark cathedral during the one hour a day they turn on the upward-facing lights.  Seeing those gold mosaics lit up was truly spectacular.  There may have been a non-sanctioned, covert photo snapped. I neither confirm nor deny. 🙂


Alessandria concluded our tour, standing in front of the original Horses of St. Mark located inside the church.  She told us of their origin in Constantinople and how Napoleon stole them in 1797 when he conquered Venice.  They were taken to Paris and put on top of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.  However, to get them there, Napoleon had to have the heads cut off to fit in his “leeetle” boat.  The Venetians got them back in 1815 and placed collars on them to cover the irreverent surgery they had endured.  The originals were moved inside in the 1980’s to protect them from the elements (and tourists).  They are almost 2000 years old having been made in the 2nd or 3rd century. After the tour ended we stepped outside the basilica on the upper level near the bronze replacement horses.  We took some photos from above St. Mark’s Square in the area that I consider to be my favorite of the trip.  May have something to do with my name – just saying.


We walked to the arsenal where during the Venetian Empire, the city was able to crank out one ship per day.  Pretty amazing.  We then took a bus (boat) around to the Jewish Ghetto section of Venice.  There is so much history in this section of Venice.  The entire city was much more clean than I expected.  img_3617

We wandered our way through this section of Venice then caught another bus to a place near where they build gondolas.  Wanting the ultimate Venetian experience, we attempted to negotiate our route and rate.  But we must have employed the “grouchy gondolier” (grouchy since we didn’t expand the route for a much higher price) so he took us on a short route for about 20 minutes and spent the last 10 minute loitering near his dock.  Gondola ride: check!

Gondola Ride (click to view)


Russ and Liz extended my 50th birthday celebration by reserving dinner at the prestigious Quadri restaurant.  This is a Michelin-rated restaurant.  If you want to know more about this rating, watch the movie, The 100-foot Journey. The meal was quite an experience.  Seven courses, Over three and a half hours.  We didn’t have after-dinner plans.  Dinner was the plan.  Thank you Russ and Liz!  Below is the view out of the window next to our table.  Note the wedding photos being taken down in the square.