Doge's Palace

Venice, Italy

The Venetian Gothic Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale) is one of the main landmarks of the city of Venice. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice, opening as a museum in 1923. Today, it is a museum.

History 

In 810, Doge Angelo Partecipazio moved the seat of government from the island of Malamocco to the area of the present-day Rialto. However, no trace remains of that 9th-century building as the palace was partially destroyed in the 10th century by a fire. The following reconstruction works were undertaken at the behest of Doge Sebastiano Ziani (1172–1178). The new palace was built out of fortresses, one façade to the Piazzetta, the other overlooking the St. Mark's Basin. Although only few traces remain of that palace, some Byzantine-Venetian architecture characteristics can still be seen at the ground floor.

Political changes in the mid-13th century led to the need to re-think the palace's structure due to the considerable increase in the number of the Great Council's members. The new Gothic palace's constructions started around 1340, focusing mostly on the side of the building facing the lagoon. Only in 1424, did Doge Francesco Foscari decide to extend the rebuilding works to the wing overlooking the Piazzetta, serving as law-courts, and with a ground floor arcade on the outside, open first floor loggias running along the façade, and the internal courtyard side of the wing, completed with the construction of the Porta della Carta (1442).

The next reconstructions were made after a fire in 1483, 1547 and 1577. In the subsequent rebuilding work it was decided to respect the original Gothic style, despite the submission of a neo-classical alternative designs by the influential Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio.

Since 1996, the Doge’s Palace has been part of the Venetian museums network.

Courtyard

The north side of the courtyard is closed by the junction between the palace and St. Mark’s Basilica, which used to be the Doge’s chapel. At the center of the courtyard stand two well-heads dating from the mid-16th century.

In 1485, the Great Council decided that a ceremonial staircase should be built within the courtyard. The design envisaged a straight axis with the rounded Foscari Arch, with alternate bands of Istrian stone and red Verona marble, linking the staircase to the Porta della Carta, and thus producing one single monumental approach from the Piazza into the heart of the building. Since 1567, the Giants’ Staircase is guarded by Sansovino’s two colossal statues of Mars and Neptune, which represents Venice’s power by land and by sea, and therefore the reason for its name.

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Details

Founded: 1340
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Italy

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Dennis Wigand (7 months ago)
Beautiful palace with lots of stunningly painted roofs. The prison section connected by the bridge of sighs (?) was a unique experience. Due to prebooking the ticket online we didn't have to wait in line and could directly enter the palace. Also, the collection of various weapons from the 15./16. century are quite nice to look at. The following part is very subjective: I didn't rate the experience with 5 stars, just because there exist much more stunning architectural sights in Italy.
Anthony Craythorn (7 months ago)
The interior of this palace is well worth the entry fee (book a timed entry online to skip cue). The outside, while quite large and grand, gives absolutely no hint to the stunning painted roofs and vast halls inside!
Nir Aviv Shapir (8 months ago)
In my opinion the MOST beautiful Palace in the world!
Ondřej Karbaš (8 months ago)
A little too expensive, as we were two students, but absolutely worth every penny. Gorgeous architecture accompanied by interesting notes about (almost) every room. I was slightly disappointed with the Bridge of sighs, I expected it to be a more open area in there, but it really is just two very narrow corridors, and you can't see very well through the windows. Despite that, still the most beautiful thing in Venice.
Michael (9 months ago)
Even though the city itself is much over-hyped due to its shamefully degraded condition (visually as well as gastronomically) we can wholeheartedly recommend the Doge's Palace. It is in and of itself already a sight to behold, but the carefully designed tour is really worth its price. Wonderful insights into most parts of the building let your imagination run free and you can almost guess what it must have been like to be a noble in the Republic of Venice.
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