The 10 most original
The flat lines of urban architecture that are reflected in the water would not make sense without the vertical forest of bell towers. Originally the most ancient ones were built as lookouts to defend the city and later acquired a religious function. There are more than 100 today in Venice, but apparently in the nineteenth century there were 180. As a result of earthquakes, hurricanes, lightning and fire many collapsed and only a few were rebuilt. We would like to bring you to visit the 10 most original.
- The San Marco bell tower is 99 meters high and it is the tallest bell tower in Venice. It was completed in 1152 by the Doge Domenico Morosini. Earthquakes and lightning were the cause of continuous restoration work until July 14, 1902, when the bell tower fell upon itself without, miraculously, damaging the surrounding monuments. Of the 5 original bells only Marangona was saved. The bell tower was rebuilt and inaugurated on April 25, 1912, the feast day of San Marco. It is worth noting that on May 24, 1519 a priest who was found guilty of blasphemy was incarcerated at the top of the tower and was allowed to eat by means of a basket that was lowered from above. He managed to escape after six days of captivity. In memory of this famous “flight of the Turk”, two flights during the Carnival are carried out from the bell tower, a ritual which began in 1500 and is still carried out to date: the “Angel” flight and the “Eagle” flight, both personified by two beautiful young girls.
- The San Giorgio Maggiore bell tower, on the homonymous island, collapsed in 1442 due to a hurricane and was rebuilt as we see it in the Jacopo de Barbari map. It is isolated in front of the church as it faces the Giudecca. The tower today is located on the side of the church and it overlooks the Bacino. The elegant cell made of stone from Istria has three rectangular openings. It is worth noting that one afternoon in June 1994 a lightning struck and set fire to the wooden angel that was covered with lead and silver positioned on the cusp.
- The San Pietro di Castello bell tower was built in 774 and collapsed in 1120 due to a fire. After it was rebuilt it was struck down by a hurricane in 1442. It was rebuilt once again and damaged yet again by lightning in 1482. Mauro Codussi rebuilt it in 1490 with slabs of Istrian stone which caused, however, the tower’s inclination. Its peculiarity is that it is the only tower in Venice completely covered in stone.
- The San Francesco della Vigna bell tower, along with the Frari tower, is the second highest in Venice after the San Marco tower. This artifact which was built in 1100 was demolished in 1489 because it was damaged. The new design is by Bernardino Ongarino, who wanted to be buried at its feet, as is stated on a plaque. Construction started in 1571 and was completed ten years later.
- The Madonna dell’Orto bell tower was built in 1300. Its name derives from a discovery, in a nearby garden, of a statue of the Madonna considered to be miraculous. The cell, which was added in 1503, is composed of a three-light window in round arches and decorated with statues. The dome is covered with scale bricks. The largest bell is dated 1424.
- The Santi Apolostoli bell tower origins date back to the year 600. The original one, however, was destroyed along with the church in a fire dated 1105. It was rebuilt in 1450 with a cell on the pilasters. In 1659 the cell collapsed due to a hurricane and was rebuilt based on a design by Andrea Tirali between 1672 and 1720. It is made of brick and its base is made of stone from Istria.
- The Santo Stefano bell tower, began being built between 1450 and 1500, and after it caught fire in 1529 it was completed in 1546. On August 7, 1585 it was struck by lightning and collapsed on the houses of the Malatini located on the other side of the canal. It was rebuilt between 1600 and 1700 and eventually leaned dangerously because the foundations gave way. In the early 1900s it was reinforced at the base with two spurs. The building is made of brick and a double order of pilasters, with a cell that is open and has a three-light window with raised arcs.
- The Frari bell tower was started in 1361 thanks to the sum of 8,000 ducats which were donated by the noble Patrizio Viera. The design is by Jacopo Celega. In 1840 the roof was hit by lightning. In 1871 it was repaired because the foundation began to give way. The structure is double-barreled. The base is made of blocks of Istrian stone. The openings of the cell are three-mullioned windows with round arches.
- The Sant’Eufemia bell tower on the Giudecca, in turret style, dates back to mid-700. It was restored in 1883. The barrel is made of brick pilasters and the cell is open on three sides with three-mullioned windows and the arch is made of brick. The hut roof is unique.
- The Santa Maria Formosa bell tower is 40 meters high. It was rebuilt in 1678 based on a project by the priest Federico Zucconi. The structure, which is in Baroque style, is a square barrel. Its walls are decorated with geometric motifs in relief. On the entrance door that faces the canal there is a keystone with an expressive large mask. According to popular legend it was intended to ward off the devil, whose aim was to get inside to ring the bells and cause havoc among the people whose daily life was regulated by their strokes.