The Doge's Palace in Venice is a stunning example of Gothic architecture built over time, beginning with its original 14th- and 15th-century foundations and including important Renaissance and great Mannerist additions.
It was constructed around 1340 under the Italian name Palazzo Ducale. The Doge of Venice, the Republic's highest official, once lived in this same palace. Within these walls were located government offices, courts, jails, the Doge's living quarters, stables, and armories, among other uses.
There was once a fire that damaged the building, and Doge Sebastiano Ziani ordered reconstruction to be done. The Natural History Museum that stands on the former Palazzo Dei Turchi site is just one example of the new palaces that likely featured all the distinguishing traits of Byzantine-Venetian architecture.
How to explore the Doge's Palace?
- The public entrance to the palace is through Porta del Frumento, reached by the arcade beneath the waterfront façade of the Doge's Palace. This entrance dates back to the 14th century.
- The bottom floor houses public services and the Museo Dell'Opera, the former palace kitchens, now used in part as an exhibition space. The sculptures on the walls of Museo Dell'Opera are crafted in classic medieval fashion. These sculptures depict the holy and the profane, history and legend, astronomy, and astrology. Men, women, children, animals, plants, zodiac signs, myths, symbols, vices, and virtues, were arranged in stories, fables, parables, demonstrations, and moral allegories, and the resulting collection of carved - capitals formed what amounted to an epic poem on these sculptures. Poetic itineraries via this kind of encyclopedic dissertation are provided by the 42 museums of the Museo Dell'Opera.
- The spectacular courtyard is the starting point for a tour of the upper floors. The entrance to the courtyard from the north is blocked by what was once the Doge's chapel. See also the two enormous statues of Mars and Neptune, which stand for Venice's land and sea might.
- You will find the Doge's Apartments on the ground floor, also called Loggia. It served as the personal residence of Doge. Rooms from the apartments are now shown on the museum's tour; they are notable for their engraved hardwood ceilings, gigantic marble chimneys with opulent, delicate carved designs, painting friezes, and stuccos.
- The first and second levels are dedicated to institutional chambers. A governmental and judicial administration, the envy of Europe for ages, was housed here.
- Check out the prisons connected by the Bridge of Sighs. In 1614, it was constructed to connect the Doge's Palace to the building. The bridge got its famous moniker during the Romantic era, alluding to the prisoner's last glimpses of freedom as they crossed the bridge from the courtroom to their cells overlooking the lagoon and San Giorgio.
- Explore the Armoury's chambers to see an impressive array of ancient weaponry and armor dating back to the 14th century.
- The famous O'Group runs Ducale Caffè, a popular hangout place at the palace. The cafe's menu features hot and cold delicacies, international salads, and an extensive assortment of snacks that pay tribute to the most famous Venetian artists of all time, including Tintoretto, Veronese, and Titian.