San Marco is a minor basilica in Rome dedicated to St. Mark the Evangelist. It was first built in 336 by Pope Mark, whose remains are in an urn located below the main altar. The basilica is the national church of Venice in Rome.
After a restoration in 792 by Pope Adrian I, the church was rebuilt by Pope Gregory IV in 833. Besides the addition of a Romanesque bell tower in 1154, the major change in the architecture of the church was ordered by Pope Paul II in 1465-70, when the façade of the church was restyled according to the Renaissance taste with a portico and loggia, using marbles taken from the Colosseum and the Theatre of Marcellus. The façade is attributed to Leon Battista Alberti. Paul II being a Venetian by birth, assigned the church to the Venetian people living in Rome.
The last major reworking of the basilica was started in 1654-57 and completed by Cardinal Angelo Maria Quirini in 1735-50. With these restorations, the church received its current Baroque decoration.
The floor of the church is below the ground level of the Renaissance period, and therefore steps lead down to the interior. The church retains its ancient basilica format, with a raised sanctuary. The inside of the church is clearly Baroque. However, the basilica shows noteworthy elements of all her earlier history:
the apse mosaics, dating to Pope Gregory IV (827-844), show the Pope, with the squared halo of a living person, offering a model of the church to Christ, in the presence of Mark the Evangelist, Pope Saint Mark and other saints. The wooden ceiling, with the emblem of Pope Paul II (1464-1471), is one of only two original 15th-century wooden ceilings in Rome, together with the one at Santa Maria Maggiore.
In the portico are several early Christian grave stones, as well as the gravestone of Vannozza dei Cattanei, the mistress of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.