Saint Mark's Basilica is Venice's crown jewel. Situated at the eastern end of the Piazza San Marco, the cathedral was built around 1078 on the site of an earlier house of worship. It is famously the home of the remains of the apostle Mark, which were said to have been smuggled from the Holy Land by crusaders in a barrel of pork. The basilica is not just a wonder from the outside; its glittering gold mosaics make it one of the most breathtaking examples of Byzantine design in the west.
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One of my favorite things about magical Venice was the unexpected punches of color I found throughout the city. I had expected Venice's centuries-old buildings to be various shades of gray, but in actuality just the opposite was true - many of the buildings were painted in rich shades of orange, red, yelow and blue, like these colorful apartment buildings. Although the things people normally associate with Venice , like the canals, gondolas, and St. Mark's Basilica, ertainly were beautiful, equally beautiful to me were some of the city's subtler, less-famous details - hand-painted frescos tucked away on the underside of a church entryway, an intricate feathered mask decorating a windowsill, cheerful orange and blue paint covering a rustic facade.