On Monday, July 14, around 9:47am, the campanile collapsed completely with disbelief of the Venetians in the square. Although it buried the Basilica’s balcony in rubble, fortunately, the church itself was saved. Remarkably, no one was killed, except for the caretaker’s cat. The same evening, of the collapse, the communal council approved over 500,000 Lire for the reconstruction of the campanile. It was decided to rebuild the tower exactly as it was, with some internal reinforcement to prevent future collapse. The rebuild of St. Mark’s Campanile started on July 22nd, 1902 and lasted until March 6, 1912. The new campanile was inaugurated on April 25, 1912, on the occasion of Saint Mark’s feast day, exactly 1000 years after the foundations of the original building had allegedly been laid. It was a sad piece of Venetian history that to this day is talked about in Venice, due some controversial dispute about the reasons why the tower collapsed.
St. Mark’s Campanile has a very long history of accidents, before its’ collapse. The towers first run in with mother nature occurred on June 7th, 1388 when it was struck by lightning. Then on October 24th, 1403 the upper portion of the tower was burned after fires lit for a celebration got out of hand. After its reconstruction, St. Mark’s campanile suffered damage from an earthquake in 1511. In the next 500 years, the tower would be struck by lightning and partially burned a total of seven more times. The most damaging of these lightning strikes occurred in 1745 and resulted in three deaths and a large crack running from near the top of the tower down to the 5th window. Finally in 1776, a conductor was installed on the tower rendering it safe from further damage due to lightning strikes.
From Venice With Love,
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