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Monument to Victor Emmanuel II: the first king of Italy

In Venice there are only two equestrian monuments: one from the fifteenth century dedicated to Bartolomeo Colleoni, a famous “condottiero” or a mercenary man and that of Victor Emmanuel II from the nineteenth

century. The first one was placed in campo San Giovanni e Paolo and the second one in Riva degli Schiavoni.

Although the histories of the monuments are different, in both cases it was thought to place them in Saint Mark’s Square, but for some reasons this did not happen.

For the construction of the monument dedicated to the first king of Italy, 48 projects were presented. The winner was the architect Ettore Ferrari from Rome, who was meant to finish the work in three years. It took him more

time because he made some changes to the original project and he needed time to find the right material.

The entire monument dates back to 1887 and it was made out of bronze. The artist captured the moment when the king incited battle.

On the two sides of the equestrian monument there are two bas-reliefs representing two historical episodes related to the king. One dealt with the second battle of independence in 1859, won against the Austrian,the other one with the king’s triumphal arrival in Venice. The two bas-reliefs are also related to the lower statues representing an allegory of Venice.

The death of the second Republic of Venice.

The first statue represents Venice with broken chains and sword, with her hand lowered, a crouched lion biting the chains of its submission to the Austrian in 1849.

The Resurrection of Venice

The other statue represents Venice in triumph because of the unification to Italy in 1866. Venice has her hand raised and a sword which is lowered meaning rest, the roaring lion has no chains and is holding a plate where

the plebiscite was engraved. Beneath it St. Mark’s Gospel. Panoplies, war symbols, the coat of arms of the Savoy and of Rome with the Capitoline wolf and the SPQR symbols are other decorative elements you can admire around the monument.

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