Hidden treasures

The symbolism of the bas-relief in the entrance of the Carmini church in Venice

Historical Curiosities
carmini-venezia

The symbolism of the bas-relief in the entrance of the Carmini church in Venice

The Carmini church in the Dorsoduro district in Venice has a very interesting entrance. It boasts circular decorative elements with animals in a relief.

In Venice there are more than 1000 bas-reliefs like these, mainly created between the 11th and 13th centuries. Often they were reused and can also be found on buildings of the 1900s!

There are five Greek marble bas-reliefs on the Carmini church, whic represent, from top to bottom and from left to right: an eagle pecking a rabbit, a griffin pecking the back legs of a hare, another eagle pecking the head of a hare, a pelican with a fish in its beak and finally an eagle that catches a rabbit.

The symbolism of these representations is connected to the Christian religion and although it may seem very complicated to us, for the medieval man it was easy to read, as he lived immersed in a world of symbols.

The eagle, being able to look directly at the sun, symbolizes the spiritual uplifting, while the rabbit (or hare) represents the physical needs, so this would be a battle of good against evil. The Griffin, a mythological animal half eagle and half lion, is a symbol in the Middle Ages of courage and purity. The pelican was seen as a symbol of Jesus on the cross who had sacrificed himself for humanity, because in ancient times it was believed that this bird was striking its breast to feed its young; even the fish symbolizes Christ as the early Christians, forced to live in hiding their religion, used the Greek word ICTUS (fish), which was the acronym for Iesous Cristos Theou Uios Soter (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour) .

Francesca, a brilliant Venetian tour guide who takes care of these columns, is an endless source of curiosity on Venice and its monuments. If you are interested in visiting the city in her company, to discover the lesser known places or curious anecdotes about its most famous monuments, please fill in the following form: we will reply to you as soon as possible, after checking the availability of Francesca for your requested date!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Venice: The Wheel of the Innocents in the Monastery of the Pietà in Venice

ruota-innocenti
Unknown places & works

The majestic neo-classical church of the Pietà stands next to St. Mark's Square in Venice, along Riva degli Schiavoni. Here, concerts ...

View

Padua: Villa Grimani Valmarana Calergi in Noventa Padovana

villa-grimani-calergi-valmarana
Unknown places & works

Veneto is undoubtedly the region of Villas, magnificent resorts and ancient places of idleness for Venetian nobles. Yet their origins a...

View

Venice: The Secret Garden of Ca 'Morosini del Giardin in Cannaregio

ca-morosini-del-giardin
Unknown places & works

Venice is a magical city for many reasons, amongst them are its many hidden gardens that few are aware of! One of the most secret and f...

View

Padua: The collections of the Convent of St. John in Verdara in Padua

eremitani-padova
Unknown places & works

The most beautiful museum in Padua is undoubtedly the Eremitani museum, created in 1895 to house the city's collections. The original s...

View

Top posts

Venice: The graffiti of the ancient merchants on Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice

Fondaco_dei_Tedeschi
Historical Curiosities

Each building located along the Grand Canal has an amusing story or a mystery to tell... After having been the Post Office building for...

View

Padua: The Museum of the History of Medicine in Padua

Museo-di-storia-della-Medicina
Unknown places & works

If you are tired of the usual museums filled with paintings and sculptures, you might find the Museum of the History of Medicine in Pad...

View

Venice: The door of the Tolentini Convent in Venice designed by Carlo Scarpa

iuav-tolentini
Big Names

Near Piazzale Roma is the impressive Tolentini church, built by Vincenzo Scamozzi in the 16th century and finished with an elegant Gree...

View

Venice: The ghost of the Chinese wife of Marco Polo

corte-milion-venezia
Mysteries & Legends

Legend has it that, during his stay in China, the famous Venetian merchant Marco Polo was in love with one of the daughters of the Grea...

View