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Venice - Piazza San Marco


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"View of Venice" by Piri Re'is - 1525




Pentecoste 2004 in the Piazza San Marco     and in Castello



Early Morning in the Piazza San Marco ..... Not a popular tourist walking time!




Early summer evening


A dramatic photo of the "crollo" (collapse) of the 98M (318ft) campanile on 14 July 1902.  It is a great pity that the city rushed into putting the completely out of proportion structure straight back up again in the same place without considering alternative locations - com'era, dov'era (as it was, where it was) was the slogan of the times.  The campanile, the original of which was built in the 1400s, is the tallest in Italy.  Siena's tower, the Torre del Mangia (named after the first bellringer Mangiaguadagni -  "he who eats all he earns") was built in the ten years before the Black Death in 1348, and probably set the altitude target for Venice's effort around 100 years later.  At 88m (286ft) it is the second highest tower in Italy and it has never fallen down!  As a matter of interest some of the English cathedrals have pretty mighty bell towers, the tallest being the main tower of Lincoln Cathedral (83m (271ft)).  In the days when Lincoln had a spire it was 160m and the tallest building in the world till the spire blew off in 1548. 






On the left, the real horses of Saint Mark's, which were looted from Constantinople by the Venetian diverted Fourth Crusade, are now badly displayed in the Duomo Museum.  Theories of their "date of birth" stretch from 500BC to 500AD, with recent scholars mostly headed in the direction of the earlier end of the scale.  The collars were added by the Venetians to hide the scars left because the animals had to be decapitated to fit them on to the boats bringing them back from Constantinople.



Part of the painting by Canaletto (1679 - 1768) of Piazza San Marco in the mid 17 hundreds imagining the horses in a much better position - but he was living in London at the time!  The painting is now owned by the British Queen and, sadly, resides in Windsor rather than Venice.



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A tale of two Saints - The first (short lived) Patron Saint of Venice was (right) the obscure Saint Theodore of Amasea (the place where he was martyred on 17 February 306).  His emblems are the temple, torch, crocodile, pyre, and crown of thorns - which makes him a more likely candidate than the Saint Theodore of Studium referred to in several web sites and guide books, and who had in any case disqualified himself  by not dying till 826!  Whatever, none of your Saint Theodores were within a bull's roar of being first division Saints, and the aspirations of Venice in the 800s demanded more. 


So, in their first internationally recognized act of looting, two Venetian "sea captains" or "merchants" managed to remove relics of  Saint Mark (pictured below atop the facade of his church in the evening and morning) from a church in Alexandria, and ferried them back to Venice in 827.


Building of the "Doge's Chapel" (it was not made the Duomo until a much much later date) began immediately, then had to be done all over again after a fire in 976.  What you see today is the Byzantine model, which replaced the earlier structures between 1050 and 1070.

The other column in the Piazetta shows the Lion of Venice (the lion is the symbol of Saint Mark).  What is not so easily visible is that his front feet are placed on a book, or rather The Book or Bible.  Maybe even at an early stage Venetians regarded themselves as superior to the "Word of God"!


We do not know what book the facade lion is pawing!

Then there's the birds .....


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