Winged Lion of St. Mark
One of the most famous winged lions in Venice is on the Torre dell'Orologio, the clock
tower on the Piazza San Marco. Another stands atop a column in the Piazzetta, next to the
Doge's Palace. The latter statue was hauled away to Paris by occupying Napoleonic troops
in 1797, but it was returned to Venice in 1815.
If you visit the Doge's Palace, be sure to see Capaccio's painting of 1516 that shows a
winged lion with a curiously humanoid face. The lion smiles at the observer while standing
half on the mainland, half on the lagoon with the Doge's Palace and a fleet of sailing
ships in the background.
plenty of other lions for leo leo lovers to enjoy. To quote A Venetian
Bestiary again, "there are lions in the middle of dreadful meals, lions having
their jaws wrenched open, lions with crowns on their heads, lions confronted by dragons,
the lion that carries Minerva side-saddle in the public gardens, the eighteenth-century
red marble lions of the Piazzetta dei Leoncini which seem specifically designed to let
children ride them, the benignly simpering Byzantine lions that sustain the Tree of Life
in the cathedral screen at Torcello."
Best of all, Venice's lions aren't real--so you can enjoy them without feeling guilty
over the fact that the object of your attentions would be happier gnawing on a zebra in
the African veldt.
ABOVE: Lion on the Clock Tower, St. Mark's Square