The story of the Ancient Greek Piraeus Lion, which is now in Venice, is one of several which are part of Greece’s long history of ancient sculpted masterpieces — and their subsequent looting, which has meant that many of them are now scattered in museums and historical sites around the world.
The imposing lion statue, thought to have been sculpted around 360 BC, was the landmark of the ancient Greek port of Piraeus, which stood proud in its place at the entrance to the harbor until 1687 — when it was looted by Venetian naval commander Francesco Morosini.
It is currently on display at the Venetian Arsenal, as a symbol of Venice’s patron saint, Saint Mark.
Ancient Greek port Piraeus nicknamed “Lion Port” because of statue
The port of Piraeus has served as the harbor of Athens from ancient times until today. Its proud lion was a famous landmark that caused the Italians to name Piraeus “Porto Leone” (Lion Port), leaving out its actual location.
In fact, the first mention of the port as Porto Leone is made on a naval map drawn up by the Genoese Pietro Visconti in 1318.