The part of the Piazza between the Doge's Palace and the Biblioteca Marciana, Jacopop Sansovino’s Library, is the Piazzetta San Marco. It is open to the lagoog at the mouth of the Grand Canal, and is known for the columns of Venice's two patrons, Marco and Todaro, that stand by the water's edge: on them are the lion of Saint Mark and the statue of Saint Teodoro of Amasea, "Santodaro" to the Venetians, who is standing on the sacred crocodile of Egypt. Theodore of Amasea is less well known than the Evangelist: he burned down a temple of Cybele as an act of Christian piety and was martyred for it. These columns constituted the official gateway to Venice; when there were no official guests in the city, gambling was permitted in the space between the columns. It was also the site of executions in the city.
Since 1480, three ships’ masts have faced the waterfront. The banner of St Mark is flown from them on feast days.
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