Hidden treasures

The animals in the flooring of St Mark's Basilica in Venice

Historical Curiosities
pavimento_basilica

The animals in the flooring of St Mark's Basilica in Venice

When visiting St Mark's Basilica in Venice, we are inclined to turn our gaze upwards to admire the beautiful mosaics on the ceiling. In reality, we should also look downwards, because the flooring is another art work of incredible value.

It is a mosaic floor in opus sectile and opus tesselatum in marble, dating from the 12th century, but largely rebuilt during the following centuries. There are twines depicted, geometric meanders, wheels, but also animals, such as deer, dogs, doves, eagles and many others, all of symbolic significance.

Near the altar of the Virgin Nicopeia on the right side of the church, for example, you can see two roosters that are carrying a stuffed fox on a stick, an illustration of a folktale. Also on the right side there are three eagles, already a symbol of strength in the classical world, and in the Christian era also of psychopomp, that is, the one who takes the souls in paradise.

After the eagles, there are also two griffins, mythical beasts half bird and half lion, that represent pride and courage for Christians (can you recall in the Harry Potter story that Hogwarts School belongs to the house of Gryffindor?). This is followed by two peacocks that, in the Christian tradition, are a symbol of immortality as their 'thousand eyes' were considered an emblem of God's omniscience.

Finally, in front of the Chapel of St Isidore, you can see the amazing figure of a rhinoceros, according to some a sort of talisman to ward off diseases.

For children who visit St Mark's Basilica, this is definitely the aspect that interests and fascinates them more. And venetoinside.com offers 'fun child-friendly itineraries'! Stories, anecdotes and curiosities to involve children in the discovery of the treasures of Venice.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Verona: Villa Mosconi Bertani in Valpolicella

villa-mosconi-bertani
Historical Curiosities

If you are passionate about wine and history, you cannot miss out on a visit to Villa Mosconi Bertani in Valpolicella (province of Vero...

View

Venice: The Sacristy of the Church of St. Stephen's

sacrestia-santo-stefano
Unknown places & works

In one of the most beautiful and sunniest squares in Venice there stands the imposing Church of St. Stephen, erected at the behest of t...

View

Vicenza: The Bridge of the Alpini in Bassano del Grappa

Ponte-degli-Alpini-Bassano
Historical Curiosities

If you are passionate about bridges, you cannot miss out on a visit to the Bridge of the Alpini in Bassano del Grappa, in the Province ...

View

Venice: The boats of Venice’s Lagoon

barche-veneziane
Local Traditions

Those arriving in Venice for the first time often think that the famous gondolas are the only boats plying the city’s canals... In re...

View

Top posts

Verona: The Sigurtà Park in Valeggio sul Mincio

sigurtà
Unknown places & works

Sigurtà Garden Park is a 60 hectare-large natural park located in Valeggio sul Mincio, in the province of Verona, about 8 km from Pesc...

View

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: Padua, the Iliad, the Aeneid and Dante's Inferno

padova-antenore
Mysteries & Legends

What do the Italian city of Padua and Dante's Inferno have in common? Apparently nothing, but if you dig in the medieval legends you wi...

View

Venice: The Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice as the film set of 'Casanova'

Sala_Capitolo
Film Locations

In 2005 the film ‘Casanova' was shot in Venice, directed by Lasse Hallström and which starred the late Heath Ledger. Among the many ...

View