18 August 2014

In which a tour group IS fun, too

After walking through St. Mark's Square earlier today, tonight was our opportunity to actually visit the inside of the Basilica. Led by an English art historian, we were treated to a private visit of the sanctuary and the crypt, as well as excellent explanations of the mosaics and significance of the marbles used in the construction of the building (the pulpit may be higher, but the Doge's seat opposite it is enclosed in purple marble).
Pulpit with less fancy marble

I was first stuck by how much this space looks like the Aya Sofia (in Istanbul... See a few posts back for stories and pictures of my visit there four years ago), both because of the mosaics, and the tiered domes as you come in. The mosaics in the domes represent the various forms of Christ - announced, anointed, crucified, triumphant - but my favorite was the last one, closest to the narthex, of the Holy Spirit, with tongues of flame on the heads of the twelve disciples. 
The holy spirit descends on the disciples
In the crypt (which was waterlogged until thirty years ago, and where one can apparently be married) in the place where St. Mark's relics used to be, now sits a modern cross.
Modern Merano glass cross
We had a lovely walk home, along the lagoon, with just enough of a breeze to feel lively but not cold. Tomorrow we sail away from Venice, and visit Padua. I anticipate an academic afternoon. 

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