|Sala del Maggior Consiglio - Great Council Chamber - Photo: Cat Bauer|
After a fire on December 20, 1577, the structural damage was quickly restored and the gilded room was decorated by the greatest artists of the time, such as Veronese, Palma il Giovane, Francesco Bassano and Jacopo and Domenico Tintoretto, whose gigantic Il Paradiso is one of the world's largest paintings. On the walls, historic battles and triumphs bombard the eyes with the glorification of Venice. Portraits of the first 76 Doges run in the frieze under the ceiling.
|Great Council Chamber - "San Marco - The Basilica in the Third Millennium" Photo: Cat Bauer|
|Basilica of San Marco|
According to John Julius Norwich:
"Nowhere in the Western world, not in Ravenna or Aachen or even in Rome itself, had so sumptuous a monument been raised to the Christian God...""La Basilica di San Marco di Venezia. Arte, storia, conservazione," a beautiful three-volume book published by Marsilio, was presented at the conference. It includes essays by more than 60 different experts written in a language accessible to a wide audience about "the splendor of a basilica suspended halfway between East and West which contains priceless treasures of faith and art."
With images that peek into the most secret corners of the Basilica, the book covers the history of thirty years of restorations, and is also a starting point for new ideas.
|Pala D'Oro & tomb of St. Mark on high altar of Basilica - Photo: Cat Bauer|
Climate change and the increasing frequency of acqua alta (high water) is one of the greatest challenges that the conservation of the Basilica faces. Another is mass tourism. In 2018, a whopping 5.5 million visitors entered the Basilica. Zoccano said, "Politics cannot divide such important issues. The government wants to be close to the Venetians and their city, which is a world heritage. We will not draw back from this responsibility." They also want to make it easier for private donations to receive greater tax deductions.
To me, one of the most fascinating speakers was the Byzantine scholar, Peter Schreiner, from the University of Cologne and Munich, who was on the round table held after the refreshing coffee break in the Sala dello Scrutinio. He spoke about the origins of the Basilica, and how Venice was influenced by Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. He said that it was important to remember that the Roman Empire in the East was Greek and pagan, not Latin, as in the West. I wrote an extensive post about Istanbul aka Constantinople in 2016, which gives more details about the long, complex history:
From Venice to Istanbul and Back
|La Cappella Marciana - Photo: Cat Bauer|
On the evening before Palm Sunday, the voices of the chorus filled the Basilica with the music of the angels. The Pala D'Oro beamed its golden wisdom. The mosaics on the walls and the domes and the apses whispered their ancient stories. The deep spirituality of the Republic of Venice washed over me, and lifted my spirits.
Afterwards, I said to a Venetian friend, "I feel... clean."
"Purified," she replied in English.
"Yes. Purified is the word."
For the sake of the planet, the Basilica of San Marco must prepare for its Third Millennium.
Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog