St Mark's Campanile

On this Day in History: Collapse of St Mark’s Campanile, Venice

History of Italy

On 14th July 1902, a pile of rubble lay where the St Mark’s campanile (bell tower) had once stood in Venice. Almost 1,000 years old, the building’s collapse was viewed as a tragedy by Venetians.

The bell tower (campanile) in St Mark’s Square in Venice collapsed on this day in 1902. Fortunately, no-one was killed, but the Biblioteca Marciana did suffer structural damage.

A few days before, a crack had appeared in one of the bell tower walls. At approximately 9.45 am on Monday, 14 July, the entire structure collapsed. That same day, the Venice authorities approved funding for the reconstruction of St Mark’s campanile in exactly the same place in the piazza. It was to be constructed to resemble its look after 16th century improvements to the original ninth century design.

Venetian Tragedy

Venetians regarded the event as a tragedy. The bell tower, just short of 100 metres tall, was seen as symbolic of the city. However, it was built on foundations of wood and mud, meaning there was a danger it would become unstable over time.

Rubble from collapsed campanile

The rubble was removed from the square 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. It took nearly ten years for the rebuild. The new tower was inaugurated on 25 April, 1912 – St Mark’s feast day.

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