The Doge's Palace is the heart of Venice. It is one of the greatest palaces in the world, and the most visited Venice museum. There is no better way to learn the history of Venice and get a glimpse into the days of the Venetian Republic. The former seat of the Doge and the center of Venetian political life attracts many visitors.
History of the Doge's Palace
The Doge's Palace was to be the center of the Venetian government. It was where the Doges ruled, and politics and justice took place. The original structure dates back to the 9th century. Since then, the palace has undergone many renovations. In 1923, the Doge's Palace became a museum, offering an insight into the days of the Serenissima.
The Doge's Palace we see today emerged in 1340 and is a magnificent example of Venetian Gothic. Its impressive facade features Istrian marble columns, gorgeous carved capitals, and numerous sculptures. These symbolize the power of Venice and date back to the 14th century. When outside, notice the stunning Scala dei Giganti and Porta della Carta.
Getting to the museum
The Doge's Palace stands on the famous St Mark's Square, easy to find on the Venice map. It's impossible to get lost here, as the St Mark's Basilica and the main Venice sights are near. The closest vaporetto stops are San Marco and San Zaccaria. The public entrance to the palace is through Porta del Frumento. Because of the crowds, booking a ticket online or going on one of the guided tours is best. If you'd prefer to explore the museum yourself, reserve at least three hours.
Why you should visit
The exterior of the Doge's Palace is impressive, but wait till you see its lavish interior. You'll enter the Hall of the Great Council, the Doge's Apartments, and other historical treasures like the seat of the secret court. Look out for meaningful details, like Bocca di Leone, a mailbox for complaints about Venetians' wrongdoings. Be sure to see Scala d'Oro or the Stairs of Gold, and the famous Bridge of Sighs. This bridge connects the palace to the prisons. Its name comes from the sighs of those who caught their last view of Venice before being locked away. This part of the museum isn't open to regular visitors but to guided tours only. With these tours you can see the most exciting items. You can also visit the Treasury, a collection of coronation objects, or the armory, filled with weapons used at that time.
The paintings in the palace make for a remarkable art gallery. Most pieces were created exclusively for the Doge's Palace, unlike paintings in some Venice museums. The artists presented include Tintoretto, Bellini, Palma the Younger, Titian, and Veronese. Yet, the most outstanding piece is Tintoretto's Paradise. It's the world's largest oil painting, filling the entire wall in the Sala del Maggior Consiglio.
Things to do in the area
San Marco is the most popular area on the Venice map. Your palace ticket gives access to three other Venice museums. They are Museo Correr, the Marciana Library, and the Archaeological Museum. One place you can't miss is St Mark's Basilica, the Cathedral of Venice, and the city's highlight. You can also see more art by visiting nearby Venice churches - San Moise, San Zaccaria, or Chiesa della Pieta.