Museo di San Marco

Museum in San Marco

Accessed by a narrow staircase leading up from the basilica's atrium, this museum transports visitors to the level of the church's rear mosaics and out onto the Loggia dei Cavalli, the terrace above the main facade. The four magnificent bronze horses positioned here are actually reproductions of the precious 2nd-century originals, plundered from Constantinople's hippodrome, displayed inside.

Architecture buffs will revel in the beautifully rendered drawings and scale models of the basilica. In the displays of 13th- to 16th-century mosaic fragments, the Prophet Abraham is all ears and raised eyebrows, as though scandalised by Venetian gossip. Positioned above an interior balcony, Salviati's restored 1542–52 mosaic of the Virgin's family tree shows Mary's ancestors perched on branches, alternately chatting and ignoring one another, as families do. A corridor leads into a section of the Palazzo Ducale containing the doge's banquet hall, where dignitaries wined and dined among lithe stucco figures of Music, Poetry and Peace.