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

Venice: The Royal Gardens of Venice are returning to life

giardini-reali
Unknown places & works

Venice never fails to amaze. After the disastrous high tide last November, the city shows its strong pride with the reopening, after ex...

View

Treviso: The curious legends about the origin of Treviso Red Chicory

radicchio_CC.Mon CEil
Did you know that...

Did you know that, according to an ancient popular saying, red chicory (radicchio as it is known in Italy) seems to have been born as a...

View

Venice: Acqua Alta: when a normal phenomenon becomes tragic

Acqua-alta-a-Venezia
Did you know that...

Did you know that ‘Acqua Alta’ is an expression of Venetian dialect used by its inhabitants to describe the high tides that occur p...

View

Venice: Mars, Adam and Eve: the Doge's Palace celebrates their return

restauro-adamo-eva-ducale
Unknown places & works

After four years of delicate restoration work, the three fifteenth-century statues by the great artist Antonio Rizzo will be exceptiona...

View

Top posts

Chioggia: The Valley of the Seven Dead Men

casone-millecampi-detto-casone-dei-sette-morti
Mysteries & Legends

Halloween is just around the corner: have you already got into the fascinating terrifying aura of the scariest party of the year? No ye...

View

Venice: The stone heart of St Mark’s Basilica

cuore-erizzo
Unknown places & works

If you are visiting St Mark’s Basilica and have just abandoned the wonderful vision of the Pala d'Oro (which is a must-see), just a f...

View

Venice: Map of Venice, what to know before you leave

mappa-venezia
Did you know that...

Did you know that Venice is not a single large island but rather a collection of 117 small islands linked together by over 400 bridges?...

View

Verona: The roman walls of Verona

porta-borsari
Historical Curiosities

Verona has always been considered a city of considerable importance from a military point of view: being at the mouth of the Adige Vall...

View