Right in S. Marco's square, this palace, together with the church, composes one of Venice's most celebrated images.
As a matter of fact, I've been in Venice at least 4 times, and never entered more than its yard. It's a question of priorities (and companies - changing company you have to rewind prioritiies), but I always leave Venice swearing: "Next time I DO have to enter"
The Doge's Palace, or Palazzo Ducale, is one of Venice's most easily recognizable buildings. This Gothic-style palazzo dates back to the 14th century, and until Napoleon conquered the city in 1797, it served as the official residence of the doges who ruled over the Republic of Venice for over a thousand years. The city's courtroom, government offices as well as a prison could also be found at the palace, which became a museum in 1923. A visit to the Palazzo Ducale includes a self-guided tour of the doge's private appartments, the government chambers, the spooky prison (reached by walking across the famous "Bridge of Sighs") and the Museo dell'Opera, where you'll find the palace's original statues and columns, among other things. I thought there was a really nice mix of art, architecture and history, and there's enough to keep you busy for well over an hour!
Tickets to the Palazzo Ducale cost 13 Euros and they give access to all the museums located on Piazza San Marco. There's also a museum pass available for 18 Euros that includes a few more art museums in the city - that's the one we got, and I thought it was worth it. I'd recommend buying it at one of the less popular museums (we got ours at Ca' Pesaro), that way when you show up at the Palazzo Ducale you can skip the huge line of people waiting to buy tickets! There's also a guided tour available for 18 Euros called "Secret Itineraries" that takes you into rooms that are off limits to other visitors, but to go on that tour you need to book several days, sometimes weeks in advance. I didn't get to do it so I can't comment on it but it's supposed to be very interesting... maybe next time!
Among the many palace courtyards I have seen the "Cortile" courtyard of the Doge's Palace remains for me the most dazzling among them.
The two inner southern (molo side) and western wing (piazzetta side) facades are in brick and show the typical appearance of the Venetian Gothic.
At the top of the facades stand out against the sky and the campanile elegant embellishments of white marble that suggest a border of lace (photo 3 ).
Most amazing is certainly the eastern wing with the much more ornate Renaissance façade. The decor of this wing culminates towards the far end in the Giant’s Staircase (photo 1 & 2).
The courtyard is completely enclosed by porticoes, surmounted by loggia's.
The northern façade with the triumphal arch dedicated to the Doge Foscari closes the courtyard.
The "Cortile" courtyard of the Doge's Palace is for me one of the most outstanding architectural marvels of Venice.
Very good views on the courtyard are those taken from the windows of the Sala del Maggior Consiglio - High Council Hall.
The Doge's Palace was the home of the ruling Doge as well as the main governmental palace at the time. If you take the tour of the inside, you'll start by seeing the beautiful courtyard with its ornate statues, stair case, clock tower and general architecture. Step inside and you'll get to see the grand ballroom, Senate chambers, family chambers, armory and inquisitors chamber. You'll also be able to follow the path that prisoners took on their way to their prison cells, including the last view from the Bridge of Sighs.
There are some beautiful pieces of art as well as lovely frescoes, especially in the Atrio Quadrato.
Very interesting and worth the admission price. Take the secret itineraries tour if you want to see some additional rooms not usually available to the general public.
Always closed on: New Year's Day (January 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1)
Christmas - Christian (December 25)
Cost: Adult 11.00 Euros
The large building with the pink and white marble facade is the Doge's Palace or Palazzo Ducale. Columns, spires, large windows and an ornamental balcony make this one of Venice's most visited buildings. And if you think the facade is eye-catching, take the tour on the inside and you'll be truly dazzled.
Part of the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, the Palazzo Ducale is a museum open to visitors. A tour of the Palazzo is essential for understanding the history of Venice, its art, and how the Republic functioned. The interior of the palazzo is made up of a spacious courtyard, il Cortile, surrounded by various wings of the palace, which contained the Doge's residence, the seat of the government, its courtrooms, and the infamous prisons, all of which were expanded and renovated over the centuries in various architectural styles. The most important items to be admired are: 1- il Cortile, the courtyard, its Renaissance east façade, and its 17th century white marble north façade (see photo); 2- la Scala dei Giganti, the majestic 15th century staircase, designed by Antonio Rizzo and topped by two giant statues of Mars and Neptune by Jacopo Sansovino (see attached photo); 3- la Scala d'Oro, the "stairway of gold" and its incredibly ornate ceiling (see photo); 4- The chambers of the Palazzo, in particular, la Sala del Maggior Consiglio, which contains the world's largest painting, "Paradise" by Tintoretto. Note that photography within the palazzo is strictly forbidden, so I do not have any photos of the actual interior to share.
The Doges Angelo and Giustiniano Partecipazio originally established their power here in the 9th century. The present structure was built in the 14th century by Filippo Calandario, Pietro Baseio, and Master Enrico. A fire damaged it in 1577, and Antonio de Ponte, designed of the Rialto Bridge, restored it.
On the eastern side is the renowned Bridge of Sighs, which leads to the prison. Prisoners would be led over this bridge and allowed one last look at the city before being locked up. Tours take visitors through the palace and prison (sorry, no photos allowed inside). The stories are pretty grim.
Piazzetta di San Marco, but come on! you can't really miss it :)
It's rare that you find a building that was at the same time (rather than in different eras which is quite common) the official residence of the rules, the centre of government and the then 'civil service' and... prisons...
It was started as far back as in the 9th century, but reached it's present form over 500 years later. While the building is impressive wherever you view it from, the real interest is inside. So...
- Ponte dei Sospiri
- Sala del Maggior Consiglio (Hall of the Greater Council)
- Scala dei Giganti (Giants' Staircase)
- Porta della Carta (Paper Door)
- Scala d'Oro (Golden Staircase)
- Sala delle Quattro Porte (Hall of Four Door)
- College Antechamber
- Secret Chambers
The palazzo ducale, or doge's palace, was home for almost a thousand years not only to Venice's ruling doges, secret police, and principal law courts, but also to its municipal prisons, torture chambers and many of the city's myriad administrative institutions. One of the world's finest Gothic buildings, the exterior is a beautiful mingling of columns, quatrefoils, and intricately patterned marbles.
Its interior is a labyrinth of painting-lined rooms, as well as a series of dark and forboding dungeons that once confined the 18th century adventurer Casanova, among others.
The seat of the government and the Doge's residence during the history of the Republic of Venice, il Palazzo Ducale is a masterpiece of Venetian Gothic architecture. The existing structure was begun in the 12th century, built as a replacement to a 9th century castle that was destroyed in a fire, but it took centuries of expansions and renovations to achieve this unique style that is definitively Venetian, yet somehow, with its geometric patterns, echoes Oriental/Islamic influences. The façade, made from pink marble and white Istrian stone, resting on the length of the gotico fiorito veranda and arcaded portico, seems almost upside down. Over the years, each of Venice's most talented artist and architects has worked on decorating or enlarging the palazzo, which was intended both to impress and intimidate visitors. Nowadays, the Doge's Palace is open as a museum, which not only boasts some of the world's most impressive ceiling and wall paintings, but also takes the visitor across the Bridge of Sighs and into the ruthless underworld of Venetian prisons.
For more photos of this architectural fantasy, check out the travelogue: "il Palazzo Ducale.
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