Hidden treasures

The mask to scare the devil in the bell towers of Venice

Mysteries & Legends
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The mask to scare the devil in the bell towers of Venice

Many of the beautiful churches of Venice have at their side a bell tower, formerly an indispensable tool for the conduct of everyday life for all the inhabitants of the parish. The tolling of the bell in fact marked the beginning and the end of the working day and the various religious functions.

Almost always, the door leading to the top of the tower has a decorative relief, such as an angel, but more often it has grotesque masks, monstrous faces that make strange grimaces.

According to popular belief the mask was intended to ward off the devil who wanted to come and ring the bells, thus causing confusion among the people governed by their tolling.

The ‘most beautiful' mask in Venice is probably one at the church of Santa Maria Formosa Castello. The tower which is 40 m high was rebuilt in 1678, designed by the priest Federico Zucconi in a Baroque style and has a square floor plan and the walls decorated with geometric motifs in relief. The two visible sides of the base are adorned with a marble ashlar-truncated pyramid. On the side facing the canal the front door bears on the keystone to the expressive mask.

If the devil really wanted to climb the tower a mask would certainly not have stopped him!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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