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

Jonathan K (10 months ago)
You are forced to visit ALL 4 museums at one single day. That is definitely too much!! And you only have the option to buy for all museum at the same time. Really really bad, please change this! It must be possible to visit them on different days...especially for this amazing price...
Sal Jafar (12 months ago)
A true wonder of a historical building. A testament to the extreme wealth and capability of the Venetians. Level of ornate detail and craftsmanship, particularly for the time, is unbelievable. Also some important precursors to modern government were established on these premises.
Nicholas Christopher Hood (12 months ago)
WOW! We have been all over the world in terms particularly of seeing royal sights and buildings etc… This is the quarters of the old Venetian government and courts, it’s politicians and or royalty. It’s pretty beautiful, spectacular, ornate, and historically fascinating. You should definitely see it!
Dennis Wigand (2 years 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 (2 years 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!
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