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The stunning Clock tower of Venice has been watching over the city for over five hundred years, marking the time with absolute precision from a corner of our beautiful Saint Mark’s Square. This is, of course, one of the most famous architectural landmarks in Venice: it overlooks the triumphal arch of the city’s neuralgic shopping street, the ancient "Merceria"connecting Saint Mark's square to Rialto.

Until 1998, the 5 floors of the tower were occupied, as well as by the clock mechanism, also by a guardian, who divided his rooms with the tolling of the Two Moors. Nowadays not anymore. Imagine to be the guardian there? :)

The Moors are two statues which dominate the Clocl tower of Venice and which  are not strictly moors after all, but were thus defined by the dark bronze patina that covers them, strike a blow, each one, every five minutes.

What does it mean for the poor guardian ? This means that the poor guardian suffered 24 hourly strokes that in a day make 264 deafening shots

At noon and midnight, the sundial also accompanies the two noisy and indefatigable moors. To make sure the passage of time is well marked, the sundial re-enacts the 132 shots made by each moor in the previous 11 hours.

Which means that the poor guardian and family listened to 528 chimes a day multiplied by 365 days, that is 192,720 strokes.

The mechanism

The mechanism of the clock tower of Venice has not remained the same since 1499, but has undergone several restorations commissioned to maintain its operation unchanged. The last one was completed in 2006. It is very interesting to look at the cogwheels, the counterweights system and the large 80 cm drums indicating the Roman numerals for the days.

Walking up the stairs, you arrive on the terrace where the Moors and the bell stand out, and from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the lagoon.

Venice Clock Tower offer an amazing wonderful view from the terrace, overlooking the Venetian bell towers and streets. There are more than 178, built as rudimentary headlights to send warning messages to ships in the lagoon in wartime.

Venice Clock Tower: the statues of the Magi Kings

If you are in Venice on the day of the Epiphany ( or on the day of Festa Della Sensa) you cannot miss this short but unmissable event, that every year comes to life in Piazza San Marco, observing the Clock Tower.

From midday you can admire the Three Wise Men, the Magi King, in procession in front of the Virgin Mary and the Little Jesus. At the stroke of every hour, from the panel next to the clock, comes out this procession of wooden figures, representing the Nativity, just like a giant carillon.

They come out of a side door preceded by an Angel with a trumpet, bow before Jesus and Mary and fall into the ancient Tower. The statues are not the originals ones of 1499. but a faithful copy made in the 18th century.

The building of the Clock Tower of Venice

The architect Mauro Codussi built the Clock Tower between 1496 and 1499, while the two side wings were added in the eighteenth century. 

The complex system of the clock, which marks hour, day, lunar phases and zodiac, was created by the Emilia-based watchmaker Giancarlo Ranieri starting from 1493; according to legend, when the watchmaker had finished his masterpiece, the Inquisitors of State made him blind, so that he could never again build an equal one.

 

Many thanks to Monica Cesarato blog for details :)

 

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My free walk in Venice tours:

Free Walk in Venice tours - Cannaregio and the Jewish Ghetto tour

Free Walk in Venice tours - The heart and soul of Venice: Carampane and Rialto tour 

Free Walk in Venice tours - the hidden secrets of Venice and Dorsoduro: Venice off the beaten tracks

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Everyone knows the history of Marco Polo, but do you know this legend ?

Legend says that when Marco Polo lived  in China, he fell in love with one of the Great Khan's daughters and after marrying her, they came back to Venice together. The young and beautiful oriental princess was very sweet and polite, but didn't feel comfortable in the lagoon city and unfortunately she became victim of jealousy on the part of the Marco's sisters.

In 1298, when Marco Polo was captured in battle against the rival Italian city state of Genova (Genoa).  So, the envious sisters in law told the chinese girl that her husband was dead; reeling from pain the girl set fire to her clothes and jumped from the windows of Marco Polo's house into the underlying canal (the rio that you can see nowadays on front of the Malibran Theater).

The legend says that, sometimes, if at night you walk through the Milion courtyard (where Polo's houses stood) you can see a white figure floating in the air or you can hear a sweet song of Eastern origin.

There are no certain documents about this story , but a few years ago, during excavations in the foundations of the Malibran Theatre (built on Polo's old houses), human remains belonging to an Asian woman buried with objects of clear Chinese origins and a tiara with the imperial coat were found.

Who was this oriental woman?

 

 

My website: www.freewalkinvenicetours.com

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Facebook: Free walk in Venice tours

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My free walk in Venice tours:

Free Walk in Venice tours - Cannaregio and the Jewish Ghetto tour

Free Walk in Venice tours - The heart and soul of Venice: Carampane and Rialto tour 

Free Walk in Venice tours - the hidden secrets of Venice and Dorsoduro: Venice off the beaten tracks

***Please, keep in mind that this is not a daily walk, contact me leaving your email to have the updated calendar!*** This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Il blog dei nostri Venice free tours.

 

La Serenissiam è stata definita la miglior forma di Repubblica esistente, + anche vero che la giustizia qui a Venezia era molto severa, anche se dava,(specialmente dopo l’episodio del famoso fornaretto) garanzie precise per quanto poteva riguardare la difesa degli accusati di crimini.

Ma crimini efferati ve ne furono, e proprio nella natura stessa della Repubblica questi dovevano essere immediatamente puniti con precisa e mirata violenza, per dare al popolo la sicurezza e il monito che chiunque si macchiasse di cruenti crimini veniva puntualmente punito, dando soddisfazione alle vittime o ai loro parenti, ma , in egual modo, far presente che la lunga mano della quarantia criminal sarebbe stata presente, e la punizione inesorabile e terribile.

L’esecuzione  dei condannati a morte avveniva sempre tra le colonne di Marco e Todaro a S. Marco, ma prima, perchè l’impatto “educativo” fosse ancor più efficace, il colpevole doveva subire determinati, terribili torture.

colonna di s.croceUna delle tappe più drammatiche avveniva, dopo il trasporto in una gondola sul canal grande dalle prigioni venivano portati a S. Croce, presso una colonna unica rimasta di un Monastero che aveva sede alla Giudecca e che venne smantellato, e che venne quindi incastrata tra la Fondamenta della Croce e la Fondamenta del Monastero.

Fondamenta de la CroceQui venivano loro mozzate le mani che venivano poi legate al collo, quindi il condannato veniva portato presso il luogo  dell’esecuzione, e qui, finalmente veniva posta fine alla sua vita, con lo sguardo rivolto all’orologio della torre, giusto per far capire loro che quella era l’ora della loro morte. Si ricorda difatti il detto "Te fasso veder mi, che ora che xe"!

Sicuramente fortemente cruento e drammatico, ma questo era ritenuto  un modo per rendere la giustizia più giusta Colonne di Marco e Todaro(all’epoca) e allo stesso tempo dare un insegnamento ai veneziani del peso della legge! Da non dimenticare!

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Sunday, 04 December 2016 17:46

Gondole for everyone ! Venice free tours

Gondole for everyone !

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Gondola, Venice

The venetian Gondola was  the main type of transportation for Venetians, even outside the city..we can say  until the invention of motorboats. But that was in particular for very rich people, a kind of limousine ;)

First mentioning of gondola was in the far 1094. That was a very important year, it was the same year when St. Mark’s Church (Basilica di San marco) was consecrated.

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Ancient gondola in Ca' Rezzonico museum

 

 

 

It is 11 metres long, made up of 280 different pieces of wood and is painted with seven layers of black paint. It can be steered by a single gondolier with just one oar!

 

 

What about colours?

At the beginning you could decorate and paint your gondola however you wanted. Didn't you know that? We don't think you knew that because the typical gondola nowadays is a black gondola!

Hovever, wealthy noble and rich families could even risk bankruptcy in order to maintain their appearances and have colourful and unique gondolas. So they kept on to decorate their gondole.

Back in the past, gondolas were covered up with a wooden cabin called felze.

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Gondole represented by Gentile Bellini in the early 1500’s, Gallerie dell'Accademia museum,Venice

 

The Venetian Senate ended this extravagance mood of decorating trought a law to  evem ban decorations and to make all gondolas black... gondole that everyone knows.

Today Venetian people are not using gondolas anymore.. but tourists can take a gondola ride pretty much anywhere in the city. The price is fixed, it’s 80 € for 30 minutes during the day and 100 € during the night. 

There are also wedding gondolas…

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A gondola decorated for a wedding

… or funeral gondolas.

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 18th century funeral gondola in Venice

But the ones we are still using and that we love  the most is the so called "traghetto". Traghetto means "ferry boat", a public service across Grand Canal.  The faster way to cross it! This is a very cheap service, just 2€! Of course this will last only few minutes, but that’s the way locals doa. and finally you can share a gondola with Venetian people.

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People getting on a traghetto "ferry boat" at Rialto market, Venice

 

By Free Walk in Venice

Isola Tour project

4 meeting point, unlimited knowledge and fun for our Venice free tours.

www.freewalkinvenice.org

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