Welcome to our new category „Venice from A to Z“. While waiting for the Architecture Biennale in Venice to start – and to inform you about many peculiarities of the lagoon city before you visit our Meeting Point – we would like to present to you our Venice ABC in the following weeks and months.
When visiting Venice, it is hard not to notice the many lions adorning the doors and facades of the buildings, especially around Saint Mark’s Square. The Venetian lion normally has wings, very often holds a book below its paw, and sometimes is completed by a halo around its head. These three elements (wings, book, halo) reveal it as a symbol of Saint Mark the Evangelist, patron saint of the city. According to a tradition started in the 2nd century AD, each of the four Evangelists is represented by a winged creature: lion, bull, eagle, human. This set of four creatures was also used in relation with the divine presence in the Old Testament. Also, the lion has been associated with power, courage and strength since ancient times. What better symbol for the prestigious Venetian Republic? The book the lion is holding says “Pax tibi Marce, evangelista meus”, which translates as “Peace to you Mark, my evangelist”. According to legend, while Saint Mark was visiting the Venetian lagoon in the 1st century AD, a storm put him in danger, but an angel appeared to him and reassured the saint with those words. The winged lion also appears in gold on a red background on the flag of Venice. The relics of Saint Mark arrived in the lagoon in the early 9th century, and the first representations of the lion as his symbol in Venice date to the 12th century. Yet, it was not until the 1260s that a lion appeared on the Venetian flag. So old, and yet so modern: its unique profile has become the symbol of the Venice Biennale and the shape of the Golden Lion Prize for the Venice Film Festival!
The „Laguna Veneta“ is the biggest lagoon in Italy with a total of 550 square kilometeres. It was created after the Ice Age at the confluence of various rivers from the Alps and the Apennines. The so-called littorals, narrow strips of sand, separate the lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. The lagoon is constantly in danger: sometimes it threatens to silt up, because the sediment washed by the rivers are too much, sometimes they are not enough to stop the erosion, so that the sea threatens to conquer the lagoon.
Venice Lido (Lido di Venezia) is an island, usually just referred to as ‚the Lido‘. It is the narrow strip of land which separates the central part of the Venetian lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. Once just a natural barrier, the Lido is now Venice’s seaside. It’s also the origin of the word ‚lido‘ as used in the English-speaking world to describe bathing establishments. It was developed as a seaside resort at the beginning of the twentieth century, and has been popular for beach holidays ever since. In Luchino Visconti’s 1971 film Death in Venice, Dirk Bogarde plays ailing composer Gustav von Aschenbach, who visits the Lido during its turn-of-the-century heyday. The film is based on a novella by Thomas Mann, and is set to music by Mahler. Lido is undoubtedly most known for hosting Venice Film Festival, but it’s usually avoided by the mass of tourists.
POINTS of contact offers a legendary Meeting Point for architects during the opening week of the Architecture Biennale (23.–28.5.2018). Register here