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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Lions of Venice

When the Venetian admiral Francesco Morosini (1618-1694) returned to Venice, having completed successfully his military campaigns against the Turks in the Greek territory (1634-1687), he brought with him two marble lions to form an assemble with the two others already decorating the city. These marble sculptures were not simply spoils of war from the conquered Greek land, but something more significant, since every lion representation symbolized in the eyes of the Venetians Mark the Evangelist, that is the patron saint of the city, and by extension the naval supremacy of Venice. Moreover, Venice exhibited a wide variety of lions of each kind: painted or carved ones in marble or in any other stone. In the settlements of the Serenissima in its various provinces carved built-in lions were prevailing in prominent places or in the masonry, in particular of fortresses which were erected or fortified by the commissioners of Venice in its trading posts. The lions Morosini brought were placed in the square, in front of the entrance of the naval port, for the festive celebration of the successful naval campaign of the popular doge and the return of the “Peloponnese” under the authority of Venice.