Piraeus Line

Tour Attractions

Lion of Piraeus

The Piraeus Lion is one of four lion statues on display at the Venetian Arsenal, where it was displayed as a symbol of Venice’s patron saint, Saint Mark. It was originally located in the port of Piraeus. It was looted by Venetian naval commander Francesco Morosini in 1687 as plunder taken in the Great Turkish War against the Ottoman Empire. During this war, the Venetians besieged Athens, and the damage Morosini’s canons caused on Parthenon can only be matched by his subsequent looting.[1] Copies of the statue can also be seen at the Piraeus Archaeological Museum and the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm.

The lion, standing proudly on the spot since the 1st-2nd century AD, is a famous landmark in Piraeus. Such was its prominence, that the port was given the name Porto Leone (=Lion Port) by the Italians, who had long forgotten the port’s original name.[2] It has been carved in a sitting position, with a hollow throat; the mark of a pipe running down its back (now lost) suggests that it was originally used as a fountain.[3] This is consistent with the description of the statue from the 1670s, which said that water flowed from the lion’s mouth into a cistern at its feet.