On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
St. Mark’s Square is the spiritual center of Venetian life. It’s enormous and, of course, pedestrian-only. One side is dominated by St. Mark’s Basilica, but two of the other sides are largely restaurants. There are several that have extensive outdoor seating – maybe in the range of a couple hundred seats each – and you can sit there and watch the goings-on in the square. There’s a lot to watch.
Here’s a wide view of the square, with the church at the back. This looks pretty empty, but there still are a lot of people there.
There were street vendors all over St. Mark’s Square. They’re split about evenly between selling souvenirs, like this one, and fake designer goods. The striped shirts are supposed to be like the ones gondoliers wear.
A lot of the time, there are more pigeons than people in the square, and they are practically tame or at least as close to tame as feral pigeons can be. Here’s an example – if you hold out your hand, pigeons will land on it.
Sitting in your wicker café chair gives you the chance to see things like this. Seemingly out of nowhere came a procession of people dressed in 17th century (I think) clothes, walking from the church side of the square to the other end.
The rest of the photos are of the basilica. It actually was built as a chapel(!) for the doge and dates back to the 11
century C.E., but let’s say it’s been enhanced significantly since then. Probably most importantly, the domes were raised to their current height in the 13th century. This photo is of the main entrance. The winged lion is a symbol of St. Mark.
Our tour was in the evening, when the basilica was closed for the day. We went inside and it was pretty dark. Then they turned on the lights so we could see everything. It was pretty dramatic. This shot is looking upward into one of the domes. The scenes are all from Genesis – around the outer edge you see the story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit.
This is the Pala D’Oro, which is behind the main altar. There are about 250 enamel portraits on gold, imported from Byzantium in the 11th and 12th centuries. These apparently were purchased, but a lot of the relics in the basilica were taken during the Crusades. Among them were the bones of St. Mark, which basically were stolen from a cemetery. (As usual for such things, nobody really knows if they were the right bones.) At one point the bones disappeared, and were miraculously found during a renovation project in the middle of a big column. (Hey, I’m just reporting.)
A view along the transept. The whole interior is gold. It’s really something.