The lions standing guard at the gates of the Arsenale are among my favorite Venetian lions. Now thanks to Carive di Risparmio di Venezia (Carive), a local Venetian bank, the statues lining are going to be restored. I took this photo in May 2004. Here's the article from ANSA:
Symbols of maritime might to be restored
(ANSA) - Venice, November 18, 2005
One of the lesser-known splendours of Venice, the statues lining its powerhouse of seafaring strength, are to be restored to their original glory.
The statues, which include Venice's first Renaissance work, guard the entrance of the Arsenale, the shipyard and miltary fort which fuelled Venice's rise to power.
A local bank, Cassa di Risparmio di Venezia (Carive), is funding the restoration of the once-famous statues, which are located in a loggia lining one side of the Arsenale.
Carive President Giovanni Sammartini unveiled the project this week by saying: "The statues in the loggia of the 'Arzana' (the affectionate Venetian nickname for the site), along with the lions guarding its gate, are one of the main symbols of the Venice Arsenale." "The Arsenale has represented Venice's maritime power for 900 years, the origin and defence of its riches and commercial fortunes." Italian Navy Admiral Ernesto Muliere said: "The history of the whole Italian Navy was born and grew behind the walls of this ancient Arsenale, to which the Navy is bound by significant ties rooted in our history and traditions." The Navy is working with Carive to chart Venice's past, in particular its seafaring arts and military success in building an empire spanning the Adriatic and the eastern Mediterranean.
The Arsenale is the highlight of Venice's Castello district.
It is a city within a city, though nowadays largely derelict, which was the keystone of Venice's military expansion. At the height of the Serenissima ('Most Serene' republic), the 5,000 artisans working there formed a kind of aristocracy.
In the Arsenale's heyday it produced two ships a day. The gateway to the site shows the marked influence of antiquity, with lions, mythological statues and Greek marble columns.
It was the first Renaissance work in Venice (1460). The biggest lion, on the left, used to guard the entrance to the port of Piraeus in Athens.
It was brought to Venice as a war trophy in 1692. As well as Venetian craftsmen and skilled workers, the district around the Arsenale housed Arabs, Turks, Byzantines, Syrians, adventurers and former slaves. The area was a patchwork of nationalities, unique for its time.
© Copyright ANSA. All rights reserved 2005-11-18 18:24