Blowing up the Parthenon

Entrance to the Arsenale, Venice
In Venice he is remembered for his military victories against the Turks, but in the world at large Doge Francesco Morosini (r. 1688-94) has gone down in history for quite a different reason. 

Francesco Morosini (1619-94), a member of a prominent noble family, spent much of his military career leading, mostly successful, campaigns in Greece against the Turks. He was known as Il Peloponnesiaco in honour of his victories in the Peloponnese peninsula.  
Statue of Doge Francesco Morosini, Palazzo Ducale, Venice

On September 27th 1686, during the siege of Athens, Morosini's forces scored a direct hit on the Parthenon, which the Ottoman Turks had chosen to use as a gunpowder magazine. The temple of Athena, which had stood on the Acropolis since 432 BCE, was, in an instant, reduced to a virtual ruin. 

An attaché of the Swedish field commander General Otto Wilhelm Königsmarck, whose forces were aiding the Venetians, later wrote: "
How it dismayed His Excellency to destroy the beautiful temple which had existed three thousand years!". By contrast Morosini described the action, in his report to the Venetian government, as a "fortunate shot". 

To make matters worse, Morosini then tried to loot the horses and chariot of Athena from the west pediment. The sculptures fell and smashed into pieces. He had to content himself with two stone lions, which he plundered from elsewhere. Morosini was elected doge in 1688 and in 1692 the lions were placed outside the entrance to the Arsenale, where they stand to this day.
Campo de l'Arsenal, Venice
In the same year a bronze pedestal and flagpole was erected in Doge Morosini's honour in the campo outside the Arsenal.  

Francesco Morosini was born in Campo Santo Stefano, where his family palace still stands. He is buried in his parish church, where his grave, in the centre of the nave, is marked by a suitably splendid bronze monument, the work of Filippo Parodi. 
Portrait of Doge Francesco Morosini, Flagpole, Campo Santo Stefano, Venice
A second bronze pedestal (this time bearing the doge's portrait) and flagpole was erected in his honour at the south end of the campo. 
Triumphal arch of Doge Francesco Morosini, Palazzo Ducale, Venice


  1. Well, that is totally cool history, David.

    Can you please find out the story of the lion on the far right of the steps (at least I think that's where it is). It has what looks like a prosthetic head, and a very squared off bum. It looks like it may have been butted (sorry) up against a wall at one time.

  2. Ciao Yvonne,

    If you are referring to the small lion, I have not been able to find a thing about it. Even Lorenzetti is silent on the subject.



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