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The Four Horses of St. Mark's Basilica are part of a Venetian tradition that dates back nearly eight hundred years. The image of the horses is not only important for their powerful aesthetic value, but also for their deep political and historical relevance.
The ancient horses, cast in pure copper, were created for the famous Hippodrome in Constantinople. This ancient structure held horse races and was the place where Byzantine Emperors were crowned.
After the fall of Rome and Constantinople, Venice was the natural heiress to the Roman Empire, and in 1204 during the fourth crusade, the horses were sent to Venice and placed in the St. Mark's Basilica. According to legend, the horses were so large that the heads were separated from their bodies to transport. After they arrived in Venice, the cuts were covered with collars.
In 1797, after Napoleon Bonaparte declared the end of the Venetian Republic, he and his armies looted Venice and the horses were taken to France. He placed them at the base of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but after his fall in 1815, the horses were again returned to Venice where they remain to this day.
Two hundred years later, The Four Horses of St. Marks continue to be a source of inspiration, and are once more represented in a unique creation by the renowned Venetian Jeweler, Nardi.