The magnificent Doge’s Palace is one of the most important buildings in Venice. It was the center of power, from where the Venetian Republic was ruled.
By the fourteenth century, the hierarchy of Venice decided that a grand palace was needed, a building befitting the city’s new wealth and power. Designs for the Doge’s Palace were created by Filippo Calendario and work on the structure began.
The eastern wing, which faces the Rio di Palazzo, was built between 1301 and 1340. The western wing, facing the Piazetta San Marco, took an additional 110 years to build and was completed in 1450. The architectural style is generally referred to as Venetian Gothic – a gothic structure with byzantine influences.
The facades include a lower section consisting of a ground floor colonnade beneath an open loggia.
Exterior and interior
An allegorical figure of Justice sits above one of the columns and many other figures can be found on the exterior of the palace. The gate leads directly to the courtyard. The gate was also where important announcements were posted to be read by the citizens of Venice. On the central platform two statues can be viewed. One is of St. Mark’s winged lion, the other of the Doge Francesco Foscari, who served during the mid-fifteenth century.
The doge’s apartment was on the second floor while the chancellery offices were located on the first. On the third level was the Sala del Collegio, where the doge met with foreign ambassadors. Here, today’s visitors will find portraits of all of Venice’s doges. Visitors can also explore the map room and the armory.
The Grand Chamber Council, also on the second floor, is the largest room inside the Palazzo Ducale, measuring nearly the entire length of the southern facade, which looks out onto the waterfront. This was where the ruling elite of Venice met, usually about one thousand individuals total. In this room, guests can view Tintoretto’s “Paradise”, an amazing full-wall work completed in 1577.
Finally, in the basement were several prison cells, which housed convicts awaiting trial. When the "new" prison was built on the other side of the Rio di Palazzo the facility was no longer used. The new prison was connected to the palace via the now famous Bridge of Sighs.
Location: Piazza San Marco | O, 31024 Venice
Nearby sights: Grand Canal, Saint Mark’s Basilica, St. Mark’s Square
Nearby hotels: CimaRosa, Hotel Moresco, Corte Di Gabriela
Official website: http://palazzoducale.visitmuve.it/
Tel.: +39 041 2715911