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The Pillars of Acre

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Historians agree that these two beautiful columns are stolen property but don’t agree about who the Venetians took them from. They are called the Pillars of Acre (pili acritani) because for centuries, it was believed that the Venetians stole them in 1256 from the church of St. Saba in the port city of St. John of Acre in what is now Syria. They reside in front of what used to be the ceremonial entrance to the Basilica di San Marco, and most books describe them as exquisite examples of 6th century Syrian carving.

But recently, scholars have decided that they were really stolen from Constantinople in 1204 as part of the vast looting of the Fourth Crusade, and that they came to the Basilica in the same batch of plunder that included the Four Horses and the Madonna Nikopeia.
Who knows? They are certainly gorgeous. Those Venetian crusaders had quite an eye for beauty.

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View from above, in a flooded Piazzetta

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Vintage postcard

pillarsofacre

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Comments (11)

They make me think of a grown up version of building block creations.

sandrac:

Those really are so beautiful, Annie. And bless the Venetians -- they didn't pinch junk, they always seem to go for the good stuff!

What an interesting angle on the high water, I did NOT enjoy trying to walk on the "boards" -- those things are really quite high, hard to scramble on and off from!

These are pretty Annie, and lovely photos. It is always interesting comparing the vintage postcard with photos from today.

LB :

Those are very cool! I don't know that I noticed those or not!

How have I missed these during my trips to Venice? They are beautiful. So glad you posted this. I am definitely going to have to return to Venice now.

Lovely pictures! Love the detail on the first one and the 3-D effect. I don't recall seeing these beauties. Will have to look for them next time, which I hope it will be sooner than later. :)

Wow! these are beautiful. And I totally missed them when I was in Venice. I remember roaming around this area at night but never stopped by during the day. I'm sorry I didn't get to see them closeup although your photos are great.

Thanks for rewarding my search--these seem to be the only photos of the columns on the net and they're gorgeous. Most helpful, as I'm writing a book set partly in Venice in the 13th C.!

Hi Rebecca, you are welcome; glad you found my blog. And I'd love to know more about your book!

hilary haakenson:

Hi Annie,
I am a Ph.D. candidate in art history at Rutgers University. I would like to use the image from the vintage postcard you have tagged here. Do you have any other information about the card that you can share with me? I would be very grateful if I can track its origin.
Best,
Hilary

https://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/4754562083/

Hi Hilary, here is a link with more info about the postcard. Cheers, Annie

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