National Geographic : 1961 Apr
thing is the same again-or about the same." Now, squinting into the sunlight on Piazza San Marco, I felt the waiter was right. All was the same or about the same. Venice re mains uniquely Venice. A thousand years of history have unrolled here since traveling merchant-adventurers stole the body of St. Mark in Alexandria and brought it to Venice, and the great cathedral was begun to serve as his tomb. Here, on the basilica's high facade, rear the magnifi cent bronze horses that Venice took from Constantinople in 1204 (page 551); here, carved in red porphyry, stand the statues of the tetrarchs - warriors or ancient emperors affectionately nicknamed "the Moors." The cathedral's mosaics of gold and red and blue and green glass, glittering in the sun, were begun in the 13th century. Even tually there arose the adjacent clock tower, on which a winged lion disports against a star-speckled background of deep blue; the pink and white Palace of the Doges floating airily on Gothic arches; the arcaded palaces of the procurators; and the soaring, 323-foot bell tower that overlooks all Venice. Birds Descend as Bell Strikes Hour For ten centuries artisans from many lands labored on the Piazza San Marco, ringing it with a riot of stone angels, golden spires and cupolas, broad domes and lacy curlicues. Bedizened and fantastic beyond comparison, it became a hodgepodge of styles, a farrago of untidy ideas. Yet, under the steel-blue Vene tian sky, it in some way holds together as one of the supremely beautiful things in the world, a great and lovely stage set in which the cafe chairs merely add the harmony of an abstract (Continued on page 549) the Lagoon's watery streets and ring the distant Lido, a sandy rampart between city and sea SUPER ANSCOCHROMEBY JOHN SCOFIELD, NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSTAFF © N.G.S.