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Remains of a medieval church discovered under St. Mark's Square in Venice

Some claim that Napoleon nicknamed it: "the most elegant salon in Europe", Venice's iconic Piazza San Marco (St.

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Remains of a medieval church discovered under St. Mark's Square in Venice

Some claim that Napoleon nicknamed it: "the most elegant salon in Europe", Venice's iconic Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) shelters beneath its cobblestones the remains of a sacred place dating back to medieval times: l Church of San Gemignano. The building was destroyed in the 12th century to make way for the modernization of St. Mark's Square, which today attracts nearly 30 million visitors a year.

“St. Mark's Square was not always the one we see today, it was very different and now it is not easy to imagine it with canals that cross it and with churches that characterized it” , declares the Superintendence of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of the Municipality of Venice and its Lagoon (committee of the Ministry of Culture Editor's note.) in a press release published on Facebook.

The tombs of ancient Venetians appear and the story of a crucial urban transformation begins to take shape. This was well known through documents, but tangible material evidence was lacking: “The excavations made it possible to intercept a certain number of masonry and floor levels attributable to the ancient church of San Gemignano” states the ministry committee of the culture. The excavations also made it possible to discover a tomb with at least five individuals. The first sidewalks and medieval walls also appear.

The San Gemignano building was demolished in the 12th century. A church was then rebuilt in the 16th century by the architect Jacopo Sansovino. But this building also did not survive when Napoleon decided that his palace, used to accommodate the offices of his administration and to accommodate the Court during its travels, should be located on Saint Mark's Square. The layout was subsequently renamed: The Napoleonic Wing. The building designed by Jacopo Sansovino is therefore demolished.

Archaeologists must therefore now verify whether the remains found correspond to the first church (San Gemignano) or to the one built by Jacopo Sansovino. The skeletons found will make it possible to find the time at which they were deposited thanks to advanced analytical techniques.

The latest finds on Saint Mark's Square date back to excavations carried out by Frederico Berchet and Giacomo Boni between 1885 and 1889. They made it possible to recover some masonry in this same place. The Superintendence of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of the Municipality of Venice and its Lagoon intends to continue its efforts to “understand not only the evolution but also the birth of the square”, one of the most famous in the world.

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