The Latin word Basilica is an architecture term; it is also, in the world of Catholic churches, a "title of honour given to certain churches because of their antiquity, dignity, historical importance or significance as centers of worship." There are close to 1,600 churches around the world designated as basilicas.
Eight churches in Venice are allowed to use the title "Basilica di" before their name, and here they are, roughly in order by age (oldest to newest). By age, I mean when they were built not when they were founded (some of these churches were founded earlier, but the original buildings have been replaced).
Santa Maria Assunta on the lagoon island of Torcello. Built in 1008 so it just recently celebrated its thousandth birthday. Absolutely gorgeous inside.
San Marco, the cathedral of Venice. The building was completed in 1063 though the Venetians continued to decorate it inside and out for centuries after that.
Ss. Maria e Donato on the island of Murano. The date 1140 can be found on the floor. A perfect example of Veneto-Byzantine architecture plus this church has the bones of a dragon hanging on the wall behind the high altar.
Ss. Giovanni e Paolo (aka San Zanipolo). It took over a hundred years for the Dominicans to build this enormous Gothic church: 1234-1368.
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, built by the followers of St. Francis of Assisi. This Gothic church also took over a hundred years to build (1340-1443).
San Giorgio Maggiore, and now we have moved into the Renaissance. This church was built from 1566-1610.
San Pietro di Castello (1567-1621). This one is honored because it's the former Cathedral of Venice. After the fall of the Venetian Republic, San Marco became the city's cathedral.
Santa Maria della Salute. The new kid on the block. this Venetian Baroque church was built from 1631-1687. So it's only 325 years old.
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