The Palazzo Ducale started life in the 9th century as a fortified castle, but this and several subsequent buildings on the site were destroyed by a series of fires. The existing palace owes its external appearance to the building work of the 14th and early 15th centuries.
The designers broke with tradition by perching the bulk of the pink Verona marble palace on lace-like Istrian stone arcades supported by columns. The result is a light and airy masterpiece of Gothic architecture.
From the early days of the Republic, the Doge’s Palace was the seat of government, the Palace of Justice and the home of the Doge. For centuries, this was the only building in Venice entitled to the name palazzo (Palace),the others were merely called Ca’, short for Casa, House).
The power of the Serenissima is ever-present in the large and allegorical historical paintings which embellish the walls and ceilings of the halls and chambers. These ornate rooms are testament to the glory of the Venetian Republic, and were designed to impress and awe visiting ambassadors and dignitaries Four statues that once adorned the façade, representing the four Virtues, and now seriously damaged by pollution, were recently removed for restoration, however the remaining carvings still bear testimony to Venice’s greatness and her Christian heritage.