The Campanile in Venice, Italy
The Campanile in Venice, Italy, is often referred to as the bell tower of Saint Mark’s. Located at the corner of Saint Mark’s Square, near Saint Mark’s Basilica, the original bell tower was constructed beginning in 888. Almost 200 years later, it had attained only a third of its current 98.6 meter height. At that point, it collapsed. Thankfully, no one except a cat was injured as the bell tower collapsed inward. The original bell tower was meant to serve as a lighthouse to the many merchant ships who called on Venice.
The Campanile was again damaged in a fire in 1489 and the famous Venice earthquake of March 26. 1511. On April 13, 1745, the Campanile again collapsed and this time it killed several people. The collapse on July 14, 1902, created the opportunity to build the Campanile that is found in Venice, Italy, today.
The first stone for the new Campanile was placed in April 1903. Construction on the bell tower lasted for nine years. The structure is supported by wooden trunks sunk 19.7 feet into the ground. The foundation for the structure is 16.4 feet stone blocks. Currently, the Campanile is undergoing repair as the ground that supports the structure. The repeated flooding of Venice in the spring and summer, known as acqua alta, has caused the ground under the Campanile to become soft causing cracks in the bell towers masonry work. Therefore, a ring of titanium is being built under the foundation. This restoration should not interfere with visitors to the famous tower.
The bell tower contains five bells. In the days when the doges were in power, each bell rang for a specific purpose. The largest bell is the marangona. It is the only bell to have survived the collapse of the tower in 1902. The bell was rung to signal an announcement of the meeting of the dodges. The ringing of the trotteria, after the marangona, signaled that the dodges needed to meet in emergency session. The nona bell was rung to signal noon. The other bell was run to signal an execution.
It was from the bell tower that Galileo first displayed his famous telescope. The doges were so impressed that they made him a professor at the University.
The tower is open to visitors from 9 a.m. until about sundown. Visitors to the tower may pay 8 Euros for a thirty second elevator ride to the top of the bell tower. Many visitors find that the elevator is cramped as about 10 people are whisked to the top at one time.
Once at the top, visitors have a wonderful view of Venice. Visitors are secured at the top because they are behind a screen. The opening holes in the screens are large enough that the screen does not interfere with video or photos taken from this location.