Venice

Titanium bars brace restored Venetian bell tower

Five-year restoration in St Mark's Square complete

Titanium bars brace restored Venetian bell tower

(By Sandra Cordon). Venice, April 22 - After five years' of restoration work, including the insertion of titanium bars to provide stability, Venice's iconic campanile is finally safe from collapse. The work on the 99-metre high campanile, or bell tower, which looms over Piazza San Marco was finalized just in time for the great celebrations on April 25, which is the feast day of Saint Mark the Evangelist. He is one of two patron saints of Venice but perhaps the best known and the one whose name graces the city's most famous and most loved basilica, San Marco, and its campanile. (Saint Theodore, the dragon slayer, was Venice's first patron saint but was nudged aside in honour of Mark.) Before the restoration work began, Venetians and visitors alike had noticed the increasing numbers of cracks in the bell tower's masonry. That led to widespread fears that the historic tower could again collapse, as it did in July 1902, when the campanile crumbled into itself, creating a roar of rubble in the piazza. It took the city 10 years to recover from that disaster and rebuild the historic tower, following the form of the original campanile constructed in the historic square in 1514. Like so many structures in Venice, the bell tower was constructed on wooden piles sunk into the lagoon and has suffered from gradual subsidence which caused the massive form to slow sink and slide downwards into the polluted water. However, thanks to modern technology, the fractures and settlements in the foundation have been repaired and the campanile shored up with titanium bars to prevent sagging and cracking. Technicians explained that the titanium supports form a kind of a circle or a loop that creates something of a belt to support and reinforce the structure at its base and prevent further shifting and subsidence. It's believed that the titanium material will provide "maximum durability" able to withstand the corrosive, polluted water in the lagoon that surrounds Venice, while keeping the weight of the tower evenly distributed across its base. The campanile, first designed to be a watch tower, was originally built on Roman foundations in the 9th century, with construction not completed until the 12 century. Various modifications as well as restorations continued to be made on the structure before it reached its present look achieved by 1549, when its base was adjoined to the piazza's loggetta, built by Sansovino. Restorations seem to be an ongoing necessity with the very large bell tower. Its wooden spire was seriously damaged by a fire in 1489 - one of several over the centuries - and an earthquake in March 1511 seriously shook its foundations. Several people were killed by falling stones from the bell tower after a fire on April 13, 1745 caused some of the masonry to crack and fall, and in 1776 a lightning rod was placed at the top of the campanile to better protect it. But perhaps one of its most damaging episodes was the 1902 collapse that began in July, when it was noted that the north wall of the tower as showing signs of a dangerous - and growing - crack. Four days later, it collapsed, also demolishing Sansovino's loggetta. Amazingly, no humans were killed in the collapse, although the caretaker's cat was reportedly killed in the disaster.

Lascia il tuo commento

Condividi le tue opinioni su Gazzetta del Sud online

Caratteri rimanenti: 400

Le altre notizie

i più letti di oggi