The answer is…
They are called the bronze horses, but they are actually almost pure copper. If you stare at them long enough, they almost seem real. It’s a miracle of history, time, and circumstance that these horses exist today. We are able to stand and admire their craftsmanship because of a long history of looting, theft, and historic preservation. The reside inside (below picture) St. Mark’s Basilica and replicas adorn the front.
The history of the four horses stretches the imagination. They may have been created by a very famous sculptor, Lyssippos, in the fourth century B.C. However, recent studies suggest that the horses have a Roman origin. If the antiquity of the horses is not enough to produce a feeling of awe, then the story of how they made their way from Constantinople to Venice will surely stretch the imagination. From at least the ninth century, and possibly much earlier, the horses stood on top of the Hippodrome at Constantinople. In 1204 Constantinople was sacked, and many of the treasures, including the four horses, were shipped west to Europe. Even though the Latins sacked and plundered the Byzantine Empire, we should be grateful for that today. If the Latins had not looted Constantinople of their treasures, they would have probably been lost forever when the city finally fell in 1453.
Top photo courtesy of The Mercato Italiano Trattoria and Market. Pictures below courtesy of WikiMedia Commons.