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Columns of the Lion and St. Theodore

The Column of the Lion and the Column of St. Theodore of Amasea, now located in Piazzetta San Marco, are examples of works coming from the East. They come out of the Venetian participation in the Crusades, concluding in the Sack of Constantinople in 1204. While their origins are uncertain, they represent the city as major landmarks in the region of the Doge’s Palace. The columns themselves seem to come from Constantinople. The Lion of Venice is an ancient bronze winged lion sculpture in the Piazza San Marco. It came to symbolize the city — as well as one of its patron saints, St Mark — after its arrival there in the 12th century. The sculpture surmounts one of two large granite columns in the Square. It has had a very long and obscure history, probably starting its existence as a winged lion-griffin statue on a monument to the god Sandon at Tarsus around 300 BC. At some point came to represent the “Lion of Saint Mark”, traditional symbol of Saint Mark the evangelist. The figure standing on the western column is St. Theodore of Amasea, patron of the city before St Mark, who holds a spear and stands on a crocodile (to represent the dragon which he was said to have slain). It is also made up of separate pieces of antique statues, including a crocodile, a torso and a head. The statue on the column is a copy with the original being kept in the Doge's Palace.

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