One of the most iconic landmarks in Venice, the Campanile di San Marco is the soaring bell tower of Saint Mark’s Basilica. It stands alone in a corner of Piazza San Marco near the front of the basilica and towers to a height of almost 100 meters. It features a fluted brick shaft and a loggia that surrounds a belfry housing five bells. This is topped by a cube with faces depicting the Lion of St. Mark and the female representation of Venice, together with a golden weathervane in the form of the Archangel Gabriel.
The Campanile di San Marco was originally constructed in the 9th century under the reign of Pietro Tribuno (887-912) to serve as a watch tower and was built on Roman foundations. It assumed its current shape in the 16th century during restorations following earthquake damage, with a sculpture of the lion of Saint Mark and Venice added in the attic.
The Campanile di San Marco was damaged numerous times by lightning strikes, before being equipped with a lightning rod in 1776. But in 1902, the campanile collapsed completely after a crack appeared on the northern wall and the 16th-century loggetta that was attached to its base was completely destroyed.
The newly reconstructed Campanile di San Marco was inaugurated on April 25, 1912 with a new elevator and internal reinforcements to prevent future collapse. The original has inspired the designs of towers around the world, including the early 17th-century towers in the Slovenian town of Prian and in the Croatian town of Rovinj. Replicas are also found at The Venetian resort on the Las Vegas Strip and in the Italy Pavilion at Walt Disney World’s Epcot center in Florida.