Palazzo Ducale

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San Marco 1, Venice, Italy

Palazzo Ducale Venice Reviews

Andy99 Andy99
621 reviews
The Splendor of the Doge's Palace Oct 02, 2012
The Doge's Place (Palazzo Ducale) shares pride of place on Piazza San Marco with the Basilica di San Marco. The pink marble palace stands out as one approaches San Marco from the Lagoon, just as it does in the paintings of Canaletto.

The Palazzo Ducale was the capitol of the Republic of Venice. It served as the residence of the Doges, as a courthouse, and as a legislative assembly hall. The origins of the palace go back to the 9th century, but it began to take its present form in 1340. It was designed in a unique Venetian Gothic style with Byzantine influences, the entire structure supported by a grand colonnade. The palace continued in use as the city hall until 1923.

The architecture can be admired from the Piazzetta and from the Lagoon, but there are real treasurers inside. Entering from the Molo side, one comes into the courtyard. A double loggia surrounds the courtyard on three sides, with two more stories on top. The north side adjoins St. Mark's Basilica, and includes an elaborate clock tower. The Giant's Staircase (Scala di Gigante) leads into the palace. At the head of the stairs, statues of Mars and Neptune by Jacopo Sansovino (1554) symbolized Venice's dominion of land and sea. A new Doge was given his distinctive red cap at the top of the staircase.

Inside, the Golden Stairway (Scala d'Oro) continues the entryway into the inner palace. It was also designed by Jacopo Sansovino, in 1555. (Only Venetians who were registered in the Golden Book of first families could set foot on the stairway.) A tour of the palace will include the Chamber of the Collegio (Doge's cabinet) and its anterooms, the chamber of the feared Council of Ten wherein trials were held, and the grand Chamber of the Maggior Consiglio, where members of the patrician families met in a type of representative assembly (of the first families, anyway). Large and small, these are all magnificent wood paneled rooms. Works of masters like Tintoretto and Veronese hang on the walls. I was taken with the portraits of the various Doges. Elected to office, each Doge commissioned a descriptive portrait of himself. In it, he had to show that he was doing his best to govern and defend Venice, all with the help of Providence and the personification of Venice herself.

A visit to the Palazzo Ducale is not complete without a walk through the Bridge of Sighs to the former prison. The prison was in use to the 1940s and vintage graffiti can be seen on the walls.

In the basement of the palace are the torture chambers. A display of supposedly authentic chastity belts in the museum provides a different insight into Renaissance life.

Photography is not permitted past the Golden Staircase, except in the prison.

Part of the Venice and its Lagoon UNESCO World Heritage site.
Palazzo Ducale - Doge's Palace
Courtyard adjacent to St. Mark's
Scala di Gigante - Giant's Stairca…
Mars and Neptune by Jacopo Sansovi…
5 / 5 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
spocklogic says:
Nice coverage and great photos too!
Posted on: Jan 20, 2013
rsvpme says:
Wealth seems to have created ..over-beauty, if there is such a word...Very ornate, overpowering...Great review, worthy of feature !
Posted on: Jan 17, 2013
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Vipin Vipin
691 reviews
Power Apr 04, 2011
Although the wealth and grandeur of Venice these days is reflected through its canals and chic cafes, it was the Palazzo Ducale that best summed up the sheer power of Venice. It served as the base for Venetian government for many centuries; from here, the law courts and city administration all took its starting point. It serves as a museum these days, and though the entrance price (currently around 15 EUR for adults in 2011) seems a little much, the building’s former purpose is evident. There are many rooms which have weapons and armoury and the rooms that were furbished for the various committees and power brokers are sumptuously decorated. In terms of pretty paintings and refinement, you need look no further than here and I really think this place should feature on your itinerary if you are in Venice.
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
mn4262 mn4262
39 reviews
Dec 30, 2006
Il Palazzo Ducale è uno dei tanti simboli della città di Venezia. Fu eretto presumibilmente nei secoli X e XI sulla base di un nucleo centrale fortificato costituito da un corpo centrale e da torri angolari; attorno a tale nucleo si sviluppò quello che è uno dei capolavori del gotico veneziano. La prima grande ristrutturazione, che trasformò la fortezza originaria in un elegante palazzo privo di fortificazioni, fu operata nel XII secolo dal Doge Sebastiano Ziani. Un nuovo ampliamento fu realizzato alla fine del ‘200.
yadilitta yadilitta
723 reviews
Great museum - Palazzo Ducale Jun 17, 2006
Palazzo Ducale used to be the residence of the Douche (Doge) and Magistrates of Venice, but also a jail.

Its architecture is gothic. The main building and the gardens are beautiful. You will not only visit it outside. You are allowed to go into the building, including the different floors and also the Ponte del Sospiri, where the prisoners gave their last sigh.

But the architecture is not the only art you will find here. On its walls you will find paintings from Tizianno, Veronese, Tintoretto, and other masters.

If you are interested in Italian Painters, visit this museum.

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