"Venice for centuries was Europe’s principal gateway between the Orient and the West, so it should come as no surprise that the architectural style for the sumptuously Byzantine Basilica di San Marco, replete with five mosquelike bulbed domes, was borrowed from Constantinople. Legend has it that in 828, two enterprising Venetian merchants smuggled the remains of St. Mark the Evangelist from Egypt by packing them in pickled pork to bypass the scrutiny of Muslim guards. Thus, St. Mark replaced the Greek St. Theodore as Venice’s patron saint, and a small chapel was built on this spot in his honor. Through the centuries (much of what you see was constructed in the 11th c.), wealthy Venetian merchants and politicians alike vied with one another in donating gifts to expand and embellish this church, the saint’s final resting place and, with the adjacent Palazzo Ducale, a symbol of Venetian wealth and power. Exotic and mysterious, it is unlike any other Roman Catholic church. And so it is that the Basilica di San Marco earned its name as the Chiesa d’Oro (Golden Church), with a cavernous interior exquisitely gilded with Byzantine mosaics added over some 7 centuries and covering every inch of both ceiling and pavement." (John Moretti: Frommer's Northern Italy, 2006).