Can You Find The Lion of Venice?

We're on a hunt for a very special brazen beast among the streets of the Floating City

By Google Arts & Culture

The Pier towards the riva degli Schiavoni with the column of Saint Mark (Before 1742) by Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as CanalettoSforzesco Castle

The Lion of Venice is one of the most prized statues in the world, and one with a very unusual history. The lion has stood on a column in St Mark's Square, Venice, Italy, since around the 12th Century, and come to be recognised worldwide as a symbol of the aquatic city.

The winged lion is the traditional emblem of St Mark, the patron saint of Venice. But the Lion of Venice probably began life as a griffin statue on a monument to the god Sandon, in Cilicia, around 300BCE.

Over the centuries, the original bronze sculpture was repaired and modified, to create the Christian monument we see today.

Like the Lion, the founding of Venice is lost to history. All that's known is that the oldest families can trace their ancestors back to the late Roman empire, and that Paolo Lucio Anafesto, the first leader of Venice, titled the Doge, was elected in 697CE.

Well, we've landed somewhere, let's get looking for the lion. Stay on this slide and point & click to explore the city, and keep your eyes open.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a … griffin? Winged lion? Either way, it's the one we're looking for, and it's pride of place in the Piazza San Marco.

Le colonne e i palazziYouth Committee of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO

Next to the Lion is another column, this one holds the statue of Venice's other patron saint, Saint Theodore. Like the Lion, it's rather unusual, being made of several different sculptures, including a crocodile which represents a dragon.

Basilica e leone di San MarcoYouth Committee of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO

Winged lions are almost everywhere in Venice. But the Lion did once leave the city. In 1797, after the defeat of Venice by Napoleon, the Lion of Venice was captured and taken to Paris. After Napoleon was deposed in 1816, it was returned home - with only a few missing parts.

Thanks for joining today's scavenger hunt. While we're here, why not take a gondola and discover the rest of the 'floating city'. You wouldn't want to miss the historic Rialto Bridge. Until next time, arrivederci.

Credits: All media
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