Bell Towers Saint-Mark | Greci | St.Giorgio | Formosa | Apostoli | Stefano | Vigna | Felice |
Saint-Mark History | Galileo | Opening Hours Tickets

Galileo introduces his Telescope there

The 4 faces of the Bell tower of Saint-Mark correspond in 4 cardinal points. It is there that Galileo introduced his Telescope to the Senate of Venice and to the Doge.

Galileo presents its telescope to Doge Leonardo Donato, fresco by Giuseppe Bertini, Villa Ponti Varese
Galileo and its telescope
Thanks to the intervention of his friend Paolo Sarpi, Galileo was invited to introduce his telescope in Venice.

August 21st, 1609 Galileo is at the top of the Bell tower with the Doge Leonardo Donato and of members of the Senate.

The senator Antonio di Gerolamo Priuli left a description.

Thanks to this demonstration Galileo was named professor to the University of Padua and accepted a 1,000 florin pension a year.

At the Foundation, The Loggia

At the beginning of the XVIth century, the lower part of the Bell tower’s raw stones was not in harmony with splendor besides of the Place Saint-Mark.

Sansovino was in charge of decoration:
“In this work the artist revealed all his genius.

Nothing was more delightful than the small square building, dressed in marble and bronzes encircled by statues.

It was by 1540 when it this leader carried out his work that one does not grow tired of admiring.

Saint-Mark Bell Tower and Square in Venice Italy
St.Mark Bell Tower.
One cannot imagine something so gracious and delicate, as well harmonized as this kind of small palace in miniature which they name the Loggia. First the Loggia was intended to act as meeting room to the noblemen Venetians until 1610.

But, lastly, Procurators of Saint-Mark occupied it, and it is from there that they ordered the guard during the meetings of the Large Council.”
Driou. 1861 Travel in Venice.

With its Bronze doors and Relics

The bronzed doors at the entrance of the Loggia sculpted in 1734 by Antonio Galli.

“One can regard the Loggetta as one of the vastest reliquaries of the world: there are pieces of the true crucifix displayed, various instruments of Passion of Our Lord, the knife which was of use for him during the Last Supper, the holy remains of John the Baptist, the handwritten Gospel of Saint-Mark, etc.”
Jules Leonard Belin - 1843

Saint-Mark Bell Tower Loggia's bronze doors by Antonio Galli in Venice Italy
Loggia's bronze doors
You can see a detail of the bronze doors of the loggia opposite completed by Antonio Galli.

The doors of course each have their lion of Saint-Mark.

Unavoidable in this place of the city of Venice!

In the Summit, an Angel Pushed by the Wind

At the top of the Bell tower of Saint-Mark a gold covered angel stands which turns to the favor of the wind.

Our angel is more now well updated with an antenna lightning conductor, anti-pigeons on each one of its wings, the whole without forgetting wire fixed between its wings... to prevent the angel from flying away? All the same, it is Venetian!

In fact, grieved, they did not tell us the cell phone number of the Angel!

When the Elevator did not exist …

Saint-Mark Bell Tower and Square in Venice Italy
St.Mark Bell Tower.
“They arrive at the summit by a soft slope, by a true track, because the staircase is joined, constructed in bricks and devoid of degrees.”
Louise Collet. Italy of the Italians, on 1862

“Square like a keep, it is only possible to reach the deck by a soft slope with one broad step along each angle of the wall.”
Driou. 1861 Travel in Venice

“As Giralda of Séville, the Bell tower does not have staircase: ascent takes place by a ramp which they could climb up on horseback, so much the slope is soft [...] In every landing a small murderer, played on one of the faces of the tower, lets filter a sufficient light.

Having taken up enough for a long time, they reach the deck, where the bells are.

Columns of green and red marble support four arcades on every section of the Bell tower and let view stretch in the four points of the skyline; a spiral staircase allows to rise, up to the foot of the gold angel even more high but it is an useless tiredness, because the complete panorama of Venice takes place from this first station.”
Theophile Gautier - Italia, on 1855

It seems that Napoleon would have climbed it up on horseback there in 1807.

The Five Bells of the Bell tower

Saint-Mark Bell Tower's Bell in Venice Italy
St.Mark Bell Tower.
In the past they regulated the manifestations of public life. Each bell had a particular function.

Each having a personal “voice” loaded with significance for the Venetians.

Marangona is the biggest and the only bell to survive the collapse of the Bell tower in 1902.

It marked the start and the end of works of the day. She gave the first announcement of calling together the meetings of the Big Council. Trotteria Rang immediately after the Marangona to tell the Patricians to hurry “on the double” hurry by signaling an emergency meeting of Big Council.

Nona rings midday.

Mezza Terza, or Pregadi, announced the meetings of the Senate.

Renghiera or Maleficio gave the signal of capital executions.

Saint-Mark Bell Tower's Bell in Venice Italy
St.Mark Bell Tower.
“In the sound of the bell of Terza, the leader of the bowmen entered, and says to me that he had order to put me under Lead.”
Casanova. History of my life. (Arrest of Casanova).

“The bells of San Marco gave the sign of angelic Salutation, and their powerful tinklings dilated in broad waves over the mirror of the basin, vibrated in the yards of ships, spread on the infinite lagoon.

Of San Giorgio Maggiore, San Giorgio dei Greci, of degli San Giorgio Schiavoni, of San Giovanni in Bragora, of San Moisè, Salute, Redentore, and of close in close by all domain of the Evangelist, up to the distant towers of the Madonna dell' Orto, San Giobbe, Sant' Andrea, voices of bronze answered, became confused in the single huge chorus, spread on the mute assemblage of stones and waters the single huge cupola of invisible metal vibrations of which seemed to communicate with the sparkling of the first stars.

These sacred voices gave one infinite idea of greatness to the City of Silence.”
Gabriele d'Annunzio. The Fire.

The Flight of the Angel

Saint-Mark Bell Tower's Angel in Venice Italy
St.Mark Bell Tower Angel
The opening ceremony of the festivities of Carnival was marked by “svolo dell'Angelo”, the flight of the Angel, where an audacious acrobat went down on a tightened rope between the platform of the Bell tower and the Loggia of the Doge's Palace, where the Doge attended the stage.

The audacious Angel is now a young Venetian girl, the previous year elected "Mary" at the Marie's Celebration.

Her flight inaugurates the Venice Carnival.

The Suffering of Cheba

In the middle of the south face of the Bell tower there was in the past a beam which showed outdoors: they suspended a wooden animal box reinforced by metal there in which they locked up the priests guilty of delinquency.

They remained so hanging, dangled by day and by night with the movement of the wind, during heat or bad weather.

Saint-Mark Bell Tower and Square in Venice Italy
St.Mark Bell Tower.
The length of this mortifying exhibition was variable.

They accepted their meal (bread and water) by means of a rope; this suffering was happily abolished in 1518.

The Headlight of Venice

“Dominated itself by its high-pitched roof, overseen by gold angel, this Bell tower seems to the headlight of Venice, because it orders all buildings.”
Driou. Travel in Venice.

“The pyramid of the Bell tower, very high, scintillating among the silent constellations in the night breast, recalled on the intoxicated multitude of clamor the immensity of blue silence, navigator at the end of the lagoon where from this light appeared to him as a new headlight.”
Gabriele d'Annunzio. The Fire.

Previous Page - Following Page: View and Timetables of Visit

Saint-Mark History | Galileo | Opening Hours Tickets
Bell Towers Saint-Mark | Greci | St.Giorgio | Formosa | Apostoli | Stefano | Vigna | Felice |

Back to Top of Page