Sant'Andrea's Hare – Mantua, Italy - Atlas Obscura

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Sant'Andrea's Hare

Basilica di Sant'Andrea

A hidden bas-relief of a hare on a church main portal that brings good luck to the ones who find it. 


The Basilica di Sant’Andrea in Mantua was built on a pre-existing church by Leon Battista Alberti in 1472, but it was completed only in 1790. During the centuries many architects (such as Juvarra) and artists help to improve the church. The main portal features an intricate bas-relief of leaves and small animals with symbolic meanings. The most famous is a hidden hare who is said to be a lucky charm. 

There is an old saying among hunters in Mantua: ”S’a t’è mia ciapà la léur, vala a tör in Sant’Andrea,” which roughly translates as, “If you haven’t caught the hare, go and get it in Sant’Andrea.” At the foot of the basilica’s main entrance, on the exterior of the eastern plinth, there is a small marble rabbit that measures about 15 centimeters by 12 centimeters.

Some people from Mantua refer to the rabbit as Mantegna’s hare. While it is true that the Renaissance artist made his masterpieces in Mantua and he’s buried inside the basilica, he had nothing to do with the main portal.

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