Tuesday, April 9, 2013

St. Mark's Basilica, oddities

In case I haven't made it clear already, each of the great attractions I visit could repay years and years, in some cases, a whole lifetime, of study.  A few hours gets you the sense of a place and a certain amount of data, but these vast and ancient structures and collections have so very much more to offer than any single tour can reveal. 

So it is with St. Mark's Basilica.  The structure, with its accompanying tower, dominates Piazza San Marco and is at a quick glance merely another amazing Italian church. 

As always, click on an image for a larger version.

As you approach it, though, you see that its Byzantine construction makes it quite different indeed from, say, Firenze's Duomo.

Even an alcove on its side makes clear that the imagery is going to be different indeed from what abounded in Florence.

Once you're inside, however, you realize how completely different and how Byzantine it is. 

It is also simply magnificent. 

I found the ancient Christian imagery and the Byzantine style to be far more moving than I'd expected.  At one point, overcome by emotion and thoughts, I went to a side chapel and sat and stared and thought a great deal about God and the power of belief.

If the bandwidth here were better, I'd upload a ton of photos, but it's not, and midnight fast approaches, and I want to rest.  Even so, I must show you a few more things, such as this amazing reliquary collection.

Note the skull in the dome in the lower right.  As it turns out, the "treasure" exhibit (a three-euro fee to enter) to the right of the front contains a great many reliquary collections, at least some of them supposedly tied to St. Mark. 

"Arms?"  Did someone say "arms?"

By the way, signs did prohibit photography, but guards stood by and watched as people shot all sorts of photos, so I kept my flash off and joined in.  I just couldn't resist. 

The cathedral contains many altars, but on the back side of the one that appears to be at the front of the church, facing a small final altar that seems to have been reserved for the very rich or the very special, was this amazing piece of work.

No photo can do it justice, but magnify this image and marvel at the gilt and the cloisonne and the insanely ornate beauty of it. 

To the left of the cathedral as you face it stands this lovely building. 

Moving from the sacred and near-sacred to the truly profane, the award for the scariest hot dog of the trip goes to...

No, I did not eat one.  Even I have standards, and limits, even with hot dogs. 

Okay, that's a lie.  I would totally eat one of these sick-looking rascals.  I was just still full from lunch. 

Lost in Venice, wandering the streets and working back toward the hotel, at the end of a lane so narrow it was more a corridor than a road, stood this beautiful piece.

Magic really is all around. 

Canals are magic, too, or so they seem to me, popping up around corners and filling the air with the gentle sound of quiet waves.

Not at all magic is the entrance to the hotel's bathrooms, but it is ornate beyond all reason, which is something I've seen a lot this trip.

And now, to read, and then to sleep. 


Griffin Barber said...

Venice and Egypt: my two favorite places as a tourist.

Mark said...

I've never been to Egypt, but I definitely enjoyed Venice.


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