The Ducal Palace

Palazzo DucaleThe palace is an amazing example of Venetian Gothic architecture. It was the home of the Doge and law making institutions and a symbol of the wealth and power wielded by the Serenissima, the Venetian Republic. Inside are the Great Council rooms, the Senate, the constituency all decorated with paintings by Tintoretto, Titian and Veronese.  There are also the private rooms of the Doge, the famous Council of Ten rooms, the Armoury and the Prisons.

The building began as a castle in the 9th century and assumed its actual features in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is a sumptuous coming together of construction, ornamentation and decoration  with symbols, allegorical motifs, capitals and sculptures.

From the Gothic door ‘della Carta’ (1438) beside St Mark’s Basilica, one enters the beautiful courtyard. In the centre of  the courtyard are two bronze, well rings dating from the 1500s. On entering one sees the Gothic Foscari arch (1470). Ahead is the Giants Staircase a work of art by Renaissance architect Antonio Rizzo (end of the 1400s) with the statues of Mars and Neptune by Jacopo Sansovino (1554) and the depiction of the newly elected Doge swearing faithfulness to the laws.
A staircase in the south east of the portico takes you to the Gothic loggia where the magnificent golden staircase (1559) takes you to the upper floor with paintings by Giovanni Bellini, Titian, Carpaccio. This is where the doge’s private rooms were.  Up another floor and we find ourselves in a square atrium. On the wooden ceiling dating from the 16th century are paintings by Jacopo Tintoretto,  on the walls are paintings by Veronese and Francesco Bassano.
Carrying on to the Four Doored Room, one can admire Doge Grimani Kneeling before the Faith in the famous painting by Titian (1556).  
One can then continue to the Anticollegio,  whose walls are decorated into four panels by Tintoretto and a painting by Paolo Veronese. From the Anticollegio one can enter into the Collegio room where there are paintings by Tintoretto e Veronese. In the carved ceiling are panels by Veronese(1577).
In the Council of Ten room and that of the Three Council of Ten leaders is a carved and gold leafed ceiling and panels by Paolo Veronese and his school.
A passage to the Great Council leads to the Quarantia Civil Vecchia and to the Armoury room, where one can see the remains of a magnificent fresco by Guariento (1365-67) which was ruined in a fire 1577.  In the next loggia is a statue of Adam and Eve by Antonio Rizzo (1464).
Finally in the Great Council room one can see paintings and a frieze with 76 portraits of doges by Tintoretto. That of  Marin Faliero, who was decapitated in1355 for conspiracy is substituted with a black background. On the ceiling is a painting of Venice’s Apotheosis by Veronese

Taking the Loggia down one can, in part, see the Old Prison and its narrow, damp, dark cells. Going over the Bridge of Sighs one can also visit the New Prison  dating from the 1500s and the torture rooms.

On request one can also visit the itinerary of the secrets of the Ducal Palace.  This takes you through the less sumptuously decorated part of the palace where the everyday bureaucracy of the state was carried out and where the law interrogated and tortured its suspects.

Authorised tour guide booking
Tel: 041-2715911
Useful informations

Address: Ingresso Porta del Frumento, S. Marco 1  - Piazzetta S. Marco, Venezia
Tel: 041-5224951/ 041-2715911
Fax: 0415285028
Opening times: 1st April- 1st November 9.00-7.00 (entry is permitted up to an hour before closing). 2nd Novembrer- 31st March: Monday to Sunday 9.00-5.00. Closed 1st January , 25th December
Entrance: full price € 18,00 reduced € 12,00 (Museum Pass) – full price € 13,00 reduced € 7,50 (San Marco Museum Plus)
Facilities: Disabled entrance, archives, photographic archives, teaching materials, audio guide, teac
Boat Line Actv: 1/81 boat stop San Zaccaria or San Marco

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