Scary figures in Venice…
Decorative keystone

Running in Venice through the less known areas brings us to focus on the bulk of details spread in the city… Have you ever noticed the stone masks decorating buildings and churches all around? They look like paralyzed because of  winter’s cold but there is another curious story behind…

Decorative keystones, or mascaroni date back the second half of the 16th Century and were used to play both an artistic and structural role in the buildings to which they are attached. A keystone finishes an arch; it is the last stone to be placed, making the arch strong and increasing its capability to support weight. As the visual center of an arch, a keystone is an integral element in the aesthetic design of a structure and connects the arch with the horizontal moldings that run above it. Keystones are often decorated with masks or figures.

According to popular belief the mask was intended to ward off the devil coming from the water.

There are about 300 keystones spread in Venice and are commonly made from Istria stone, which is hard, waterproof, and easily workable. Its unique characteristics are the reason that much of Venice’s public art remains in good condition (and in many cases still legible) today. Keystones are located on bridges, doors, and windows throughout all the sestieri of Venice…

Let’s get discovering some of them with a SESTIERI Running Tour!

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Giulia Abbruzzese