These are the real, original bronze ones, stolen from Constantinople by the Venetians when they conquered the city in 1204. They were probably taken from the Hippodrome in Constantinople (there's some doubt, though, as to where they had been placed). The Venetians put them up on their Basilica. Napoleon stole them again, but after Napoleon's downfall the Venetians (not the Constantinopolitans) recovered them. But they were suffering from the elements in their perch on the Basilica, and now they are kept inside the Basilica museum.

Just a few paces away from the originals are these copies, placed where the Venetians displayed them in the days of their vast commercial empire. (Ignore the guy in dark glasses who looks like he's about to be clobbered by a hoof.)


Giovani said...

"after Napoleon's downfall the Venetians (not the Constantinopolitans) recovered them"

Dear sir, very beautiful pictures and i didn't know the story of these horses, but do you happen to know what the poor Constantinopolitans were doing while Venetians were claiming back their old horses to glorify their Basilica??

If you answered that they were enslaved to the Ottomans and couldn't take a breather then you are correct. The least the Constantinopolitans were thinking at the time.. was reclaiming their treasures.. the City was gone for good, without help from their western brethren, and the once strong Byzantine empire was no more.

gef said...
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gef said...

Actually the City survived, and is still going strong -- very strong -- today. Cities are tougher than empires. You might say that Constantinople conquered the Ottomans, though the Ottomans liked to think it was the other way around. Anyway, thanks for your comment.