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

Andreea C (18 months ago)
One of the main attractions of Venice, the Dodge's palace is indeed a landmark of architecture and history. The Halls are very big and beautifully decorated and it contains the world's largest canvas painting. You'll spend a good half day inside if you go without a tour and read all the information panels. That being said, despite being more of an independent visitor at heart, I would have taken a tour for this one.
Michelle Loos (18 months ago)
This is an absolute must to see! We went in the evening when most of the daily visitors were already gone. This made it look even more magical and awe inspiring. This is a place where you truly can get lost in time and it is definitely one of my favorite buildings in Venice.
robson green (18 months ago)
Dodges palace is beautiful. The entry price might be very high with 20€ but it’s worth going in. You have to be aware where you go, otherwise you might miss some things. You can certainly go in there without a tour guide. Some say you only have to see the bridge of sighs from the outside. But honestly the best part is being in there. The museum ist okay but the dungeons are super fun and you can explore so many things. The big metal barriers give the whole house so much character. You feel like one of the inmates. Seeing the bridge from the outside is boring but being in there gives it way more character. Some say that when you kiss someone under the bridge it’ll give them love forever. If you can’t afford one of the gondolas, go into the dungeons and you’ll end up right under the bridge.
Adriana Perez (18 months ago)
What an incredible place! The details in every single room are simply amazing. Lots of paintings made with intricate techniques and materials; wooden furniture that is filled with history and enchantment. It's very easy to navigate and very captivating. I strongly recommend a visit to Doge's Palace. You won't be disappointed.
Clive Goudercourt (19 months ago)
Amazing. Very difficult to express in words how wonderful this place is. An array of rooms with some of the most amazing artwork I've ever seen. Reasonably priced entrance and then spend as long as you want wandering around. Make sure you visit the prison and cross the bridge of sighs.
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