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

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

Venice: The leaning bell tower on the island of Burano in the Venice lagoon

campanile-burano
Historical Curiosities

The Venice lagoon has many small islands just waiting to be discovered! Burano is certainly one of them: houses with brightly colours, ...

View

Top posts

Venice: The Italia Theatre in Cannaregio

teatro_Italia_venezia
Unknown places & works

Along the busy road linking Santa Lucia train station to the Rialto Bridge in Venice there stands a peculiar neo-Gothic building with t...

View

Verona: Juliet’s balcony in Verona

balcone-giulietta-verona
Big Names

When visiting the beautiful city of Verona, Casa di Giulietta - the house of Juliet, the character immortalized by William Shakespeare ...

View

Venice: St Mark's and Rice and Peas in Venice

risiebisi-venezia
Local Traditions

The city of Venice has many traditional recipes: and so a visit to Venice is not complete without a dining experience! To worthily cele...

View

Venice: The Devil's Bridge on the Island of Torcello in the Venice lagoon

Ponte_Diavolo
Mysteries & Legends

When venturing to the remote Island of Torcello – an ancient settlement of the Venice lagoon – tourists are struck by a stone bridg...

View