Winged Lion of St. Mark
Here a lion, there a lion, everywhere a lion lyin'.
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.
There are 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.
Cats of Venice
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