Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 18, 2014

The bronze horses of San Marco

The bronze horses on the facade of Basilica San Marco in Venice are replicas. ( They are not looking their best now anyway as the facade is under scaffolding )


The originals were installed on the balcony above the door in about 1254. They were well travelled by the time they arrived in Venice. They possibly once adorned the Arch of Trajan and they were on display at the Hippodrome of Constantinople.

In 1204 Doge Dandolo sent them back to Venice. They were on the move again when Napoleon borrowed them and took them to Paris in 1797. They were returned to Venice in 1815.

The horses were restored slowly and carefully from the 1970s and are now on display in the museum inside the basilica. They are very impressive and you can get quite close to them.






To get to the museum, take the steps inside the entrance to the basilica. It is well worth the climb and for €5 you get to see the museum, a bird’s eye view of the interior of the cathedral and walk on the outside terrace for views of Piazza San Marco…I’ll show you those another day.


  1. What marvellous history. Very handsome horses.

    • The horses are gorgeous, and in such good shape when you consider their age.

  2. so beautiful dear Debra, Thank you, love, nia

    • The horses are amazing. I am so glad I got to see them up close.

  3. They are lovely and what skill there was to cast them so beautifully.

    • They are nearly 900 years old…amazing.

  4. Gosh, those sculptures are stunning! Imagine the work involved in restoring them!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • I wonder what state they were in. After having been outside in the weather for so long, it is amazing that they exist at all.

  5. Great article, Debra. Looking forward to seeing more on Piazza San Marco. One of my favourite places not only in Italy, but in the whole world.

    • I love Venice and particulalry San Marco. It is gorgeous.

  6. Absolutely gorgeous, Debra. 🙂 How wonderful that they’ve been preserved and restored to their former beauty.

    • It is great that they look so good after all these years.

  7. Fabulous photos and great most as usual!!!
    Thank you

    • Thanks, you are not really supposed to take photos in the basilica, but everyone else was so I pulled out my camera too.

  8. Such magnificent equine specimens!! Each with its own expression…bellismo!

    • The horses are stunning. How clever those peole were.

  9. I’ll have to visit the museum on my next trip.

    • You must, it is full of treasures.

  10. Great horses – perhaps of arab blood?

    • They are beautiful horses, possibly Arab.

  11. What beautiful and well-travelled horses.

    • I think they are gorgeous.

  12. Can you imagine what those horses have seen? 😮

    • If only they could talk.

  13. I was in Venice on the same day! Cool

    • Perhaps we passed each other in Piazza San Marco.

  14. They are magnificent! I sneaked photos too 🙂

    • We were the first group in for the day. I usually behave and don’t take photos, but everyone had their cameras out and nothing was said, so I joined in.

  15. I remember seeing the originals when I visited Venice years ago. They are magnificent. Any idea who sculpted them?

    • I don’t think anyone is sure who created the horses.

  16. […] There was a tiny queue outside waiting to get into the basilica. The church itself is closed for restoration, but the museum above is open. I have been a couple of times (The bronze horses of San Marco )  […]

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