|St Mark's Cathedral, Venice, the most important church in the city since Early Christian times but the cathedral of Venice only since 1807. The body of the apostle St Mark, stolen from its resting place in Alexandria, was brought to Venice in 828 and subsequently interred in the new church. Virtually nothing of the 9th-century church survives; it was badly damaged by fire in 976 and only temporarily repaired. The present basilica was begun c. 1050 and completed in the 1090s. As the private chapel of the Doges, it became a focus for state ceremonies as well as a place of pilgrimage. The brick domes were inspired by those||of the Byzantine world-indeed, the plan of the building was probably derived from the church of the Apostles in Constantinople. St Mark's is lavishly decorated outside and within. The mosaics range in date from the 12th to the 19th centuries. Other building materials were brought from Constantinople after that city was sacked in 1204. The detached campanile of St Mark's fell down in 1902 but was soon rebuilt in exact replica. The Piazza San Marco is an ancient space. Enlarged in the 12th century and surrounded by the major public buildings of the Venetian republic, it is the true centre of the city. (After Microsoft Encarta 1996)|
The images above, taken from picture postcards, will one day appear on stamps too... The background reproduces a detail of the inside floor of the St Mark's Cathedral, XIII Century.