Piazza San Marco; Venice, Italy
The Lion of Venice is an ancient bronze winged lion sculpture in the Piazza San Marco of Venice, Italy, which came to symbolize the city of Venice as well as one of its patron saints, St. Mark.
According to this hypothesis, two huge granite columns—each measuring 18 feet (5.49 meters) tall and dating back to the 12th or 13th century, during the reign of Doge Sebastiano Ziani or 1268, and with ancient symbols of the two patron saints of Venice carved into their surfaces—stand in the center of the square.
This sculpture, whose current form is as a lion-griffin, is probably centuries old, having originated as a winged lion-griffin statue on a monument to the Cilician god Sandon in the city of Tarsus in what is today southern Turkey. At some point, the figure on the eastern column, which was originally intended to be a statue of Saint Mark the Evangelist, became recognized as a representation of the Lion of Saint Mark, a popular symbol of Saint Mark the Evangelist.
The man standing on the western column is St. Theodore of Amasea, a city saint who is the patron of the city before St. Mark. He is seen here brandishing a spear and standing on a crocodile (to represent the dragon which he was said to have slain). The other part of the statue is made up of parts of antique statues and is a copy, while the original is kept in the Doge’s Palace.