On the loggia above the porch of Saint Mark's Basilica, there are four large horse statues. These Friesians sculpted from copper and bronze, also known as the Triumphal Quadriga, have been looking out over the city of Venice since the year 1204, and were originally part of a statue that depicted a Roman racing chariot.
These grand horses have had a somewhat arduous history, and world leaders have taken them to show their power, and are sometimes called "history's most frequently stolen piece of art". For example in 1797 Napoleon stole the horses to take back to Paris, and then they were stolen back in 1815. The horses originally found their resting place in Venice after they were taken as a trophy from Constantinople during the crusades. It is said that these coveted statues were so large and arduous to transport that they had to cut the heads off to make it easier, which is why the horses have collars around their necks.
As well as losing their heads, one of the horses lost their leg during the sea voyage home. The story goes that Domenico Morosini hid the broken piece as a reminder to people that it was his ship that brought the triumphant loot back to Venice. The original piece was not found, but a replica was built to replace it.
The horses on the front of the Basilica are actually just replicas of the original statues. The original horses are now in the church's museum where you can go and appreciate the beauty up close.
The four horses of San Marco are located above the facade of the basilica, even if they are not the originals. The originals are kept inside the museum, so as not to be exposed to the elements. They come from Constantinople and are the most stolen work of art in history. Being very large and cumbersome, in their various transport, one of them was damaged and lost a leg. Domenico Morosini hid the broken piece to remind people that it was his ship that brought back the triumphal booty to Venice. The original piece was not found, but a replica was built to replace it.