Columns of Saint Mark and Saint Theodore

Columns of Saint Mark and Saint Theodore (8)

In the times when Venice could only be reached by sea, these two columns of granite, authentic treasures brought from the Orient, were erected as an entrance gateway to the city. Today, Venetians try not to pass between the columns, since it is thought that doing so will bring bad luck.

If walking underneath a ladder, spilling salt on the table or opening up an umbrella indoors are things that are of no consequence to you, then go ahead: walk around at your will and make the most of appreciating these columns in all their splendour and from all their angles.

Placed on the spot they occupied around 1172, it is said that the person responsible for them was Nicolò Baratieri, who designed the first Rialto bridge. The superstition of those who avoid walking between the two monuments of the piazzetta could be due to the fact that this point, which in the past was a free area in which gambling was permitted, was also, until well into the 18th century, the spot in the city where the scaffold for executions was placed.

Let’s concentrate on what you can see today, though. At the top of the column of the west part of the square is a marble statue that represents Saint Theodore stamping on a felled dragon. Saint Theodore was considered the patron saint of Venice until the relics of Saint Mark the Evangelist were brought here in the 9th century. However, for reasons of safety, the sculpture you can see is a copy that was installed here during the Second World War, but do not worry, since to see the original you just have to walk to the courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale. 

At the top of the other column you can see the bronze effigy of a winged lion, an authentic symbol of the city that was restored in the 1990s by experts from the British Museum in London. This figure is enveloped in a great mystery, since its origin is not really known. This situation has given rise to diverse theories, which state that it could be an Etruscan, Persian or Syrian piece. In recent years it has been stated that it might even be a Chinese chimera to which they had added wings in order for it to be strictly linked to the symbology of the lion of the evangelist. 

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