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Thursday, 14 July 2016

Collapse of St Mark’s Campanile

Dramatic fall of instantly recognisable symbol of Venice


An enormous pile of rubble was left after the collapse of the Campanile in July 1902
An enormous pile of rubble was left after the collapse
of the Campanile in July 1902
The bell tower (Campanile) in St Mark’s Square in Venice collapsed on this day in 1902.

No one was killed but the Biblioteca Marciana nearby was partially damaged by its fall.

A crack had appeared in one of the walls of the bell tower a few days before and at approximately 9.45 am on Monday, 14 July, the entire structure collapsed into a heap of rubble.

Venetians regarded the event as a tragedy. The bell tower, just short of 100 metres tall, had stood for around 1,000 years and was seen as symbolic of the city.  Built on foundations of wood and mud, however, there was always the danger it would become unstable over time.

On the evening of the day of the collapse, the Venice authorities approved funding for the reconstruction of the Campanile in exactly the same place in the piazza, to be built to resemble how it looked after 16th century improvements to the original ninth century design.

The rubble was painstakingly removed from the square, loaded on to barges and dumped in the sea about five miles offshore from Venice Lido.

The new tower was designed with internal reinforcement to prevent a future collapse, and a lift.

The rebuilding of the Campanile took nearly ten years and the new bell tower was finally inaugurated on 25 April, 1912 on St Mark’s feast day.

The Campanile in Venice today
The Campanile today
Travel tip:

Magnificent panoramic views across Venice and the lagoon can be enjoyed from the top of the Campanile, which is open to the public every day from 09.30 to 19.00. Galileo would have seen these views when he demonstrated his telescope to the Doge of Venice from the top of the previous bell tower in 1609.

Travel tip:

St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) has been the scene of countless pageants, processions, political activities and Carnival festivities during its long history. Thousands of tourists flock to it every day to visit the Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, or to listen to the musicians playing outside the elegant cafes on each side.

Situated close to the lagoon, the Piazza is usually one of the first points in the city to suffer from flooding when there is a high tide (aqua alta).

More about Venice:


The composer Albinoni

The painter Tintoretto

The adventurer Casinova




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