Doge’s Palace is situated right on St. Mark’s Square in Venice. In Italian it is known as Palazzo Ducale, and the palace contains an extensive array of smaller within, and is an absolute architectural masterpiece! Visitors to Doge’s Palace can feast their eyes on an exhaustive amount of beauty contained throughout the palace which includes a courtyard, grand halls, dramatic embellishments such as frescoed walls, gold-plated ceilings, stunning murals, and complex and intricate statues.
After a fire in the 1500s, the classical façade facing the Doge Palace courtyard was erected. If visitors think the outside of the palazzo (which is Italian for “palace”) is a sight to behold, they’ve not seen the interiors of this elaborate palace. Here visitors can easily discover breath-taking walls made of stucco, and lavish ceilings covered with enchanted paintings. On the second floor, guests can view the artwork by Venice’s own Tintoretto including Paradise, which is an astounding masterpiece that covers the entire wall! Tintoretto completed this in 1577. Other spectacular paintings by Venetian greats such as Titian are also contained within Doge’s Palace.
In bygone Venetian society, the Doge was a wise, respected and discerning elder of the community who was elected for life by Venetian aristocrats. Doges served as judicial officers, or judges, and they lived in the Doge’s Palace for a timespan of over 1,000 years. All of their portraits are located on the third floor of Doge’s Palace, known as the Sala del Collegio where long ago, the Doges of Venice hosted foreign ambassadors and other dignitaries.
The second floor contains what was once the Doge’s private living quarters as well as The Grand Chamber Council. Of note is that, within the inner courtyard, visitors can see the flight of stairs that led to the Doge’s apartment. (These living quarters are also known as the Scala dei Giganti.)
The Grand Chamber Council stretches across the entire southern façade of the palace and is the largest room in Doge’s Palace. It is where nearly 1000 of Venice’s most elite society members would convene all at one time. Be sure to visit the Museo dell’ Opera which is located on the ground floor. It is a fantastic visual Venetian Encyclopedia of sorts.
Finally, the basement of Doge’s Palace is also rich with history, though not as pleasant of history since it sheltered criminals who were awaiting trials. It was eventually replaced with another prison within the Rio di Palazzo. It is said that prisoners were heard sighing as they made their way along the connecting bridge (the lovely Bridge of Sighs) from Doge’s Palace to the “new” prison.
Getting there: See website above for specific directions. Doge’s Palace is located right on St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) in the heart, or center, of Venice.