Once upon a time in the Mediterranean there was no stronger, richer and more powerful state than the Venetian Republic. Centuries passed, and now Venice no longer attracts invaders and merchants, but millions of tourists from all over the world who want to see the city on the water in all its splendor. But even among Venice, rich in wonders, the Doge's Palace stands out.
Here and there - BlogoItaliano has repeatedly mentioned the Doge's Palace. He rightfully entered the TOP of ideas What to see in Venice, and also became the only representative of the city on the water in an impromptu TOP list of the best sights of Italy where you can buy tickets online. Therefore, sooner or later, one should talk about the Doge's Palace in detail. Moreover, there is something to tell ...
History of the Doge's Palace in Venice
In the Middle Ages, the Republic of Venice reigned supreme in the Mediterranean, and its possessions included Crete, Cyprus, the Ionian Islands, Dalmatia, Istria, Illyria (almost the entire territory of the former Yugoslavia). The Turkish threat did not exist yet, the Arabs did not have such a powerful fleet, trade with eastern countries right up to India was in full swing - Venice was flourishing.
At the beginning of the XIV century. it was decided to build a new Doge's Palace - a palace for the rulers of the republic and meetings of the Grand Council (legislative body), the Council of Forty (judicial and executive body) and the Council of Ten ("secret chancellery" of the republic).
Moreover, this would be the fourth Doge's Palace in Venice. The first building, erected on ancient ruins and representing, rather, a fortress, was destroyed in 976 during the uprising.
Doge's Palace in Venice
The second burned down in 1106, and the third, built on the site of the burned down, already without towers and loopholes, finally decayed and did not correspond to the idea of the Venetians about the greatness of the state.
The construction of a new palace was carried out for more than a century, from 1309 to 1424, but still up to the end of the XVI century. it was completed and improved, and after the fire of 1577, which destroyed almost the entire southern wing, the artists had to recreate all the interiors anew.
Unfortunately, then the masterpieces of Giorgione were irrevocably killed in the fire. And, fortunately, Veronese and Tintoretto received an order to restore interior painting. By the way, Veronese was invited to the Doge’s Palace more than once, and now his paintings can be seen in the halls of the Council of Ten (50s of the XVI century), the Great Council and the Vote (1577, just after the fire).
Doge's Palace in Venice does not have a single style. The façade overlooking the lagoon and making the palace look like an inverted ship is a tribute to both late European Gothic and Byzantium, which for some time included Venice after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
Several gates lead to the courtyard, the most famous of which are the Paper Gates, which got this name either from the fact that new decrees were hung on them, or thanks to the scribes sitting next to them, who helped to compile the petitions.
The courtyard is several floors of openwork galleries. The northern wing of the palace, where the private doges' apartments were located, is decorated with statues of famous philosophers. And the statues of the archangels in the corners of this part of the building symbolize peace, war and trade, that is, the main occupations of the Venetians.
The courtyard of the Palazzo is decorated with figures of philosophers
You can get to the second tier of the gallery of the Palace by climbing the Staircase of the Giants (Neptune and Mars, already pagan patrons), on the upper platform of which the Doge’s coronation ceremony took place. Looking around the gallery and taking a photo of the Doge's Palace, it’s worth several times to photograph the capitals of the columns - real sculptural masterpieces - illustrating the history of Christianity and Venice.
Everywhere - lions with wings and a book - a symbol of St. Mark, the patron saint of the city and republic. But the lion's faces and distorted faces with holes in the walls are not decorations, but boxes for collecting denunciations: the Council of Ten, elected for a year and constantly exposing state criminals, worked with any “documents”. True, only denunciations signed by the drafter and witnesses were accepted for consideration.
The Golden Stairs (1538-59) leads to the interior of the palace gallery. Up to the abolition of the Doge Institute, in 1797, only members of the Great Council, whose names were inscribed in the Golden Book, stored in a room under the stairs, could go there without special order.
The interior of the Doge's Palace
The first hall, where tourists usually get, but where it is already forbidden to take photos - Purple. Here, the Doge’s prosecutors awaited the exit, officials who were involved in building maintenance and wore purple clothes. The walls and ceiling of the room are richly decorated with white and gilded stucco molding, a marble fireplace is decorated with the coat of arms of Doge Agostino Barbarigo.
In the Grimani Hall and the Lviv Hall, literally in all angles, the main symbol of venice - a lion with wings and a book. The Doge's Palace is also found in these pictures in great detail. The room of philosophers is decorated with frescoes of Titian.
Of interest is the Hall of Cards, where material evidence of medieval representations of the world is exhibited. These are, for example, copies of maps of Marco Polo and maps on which Tartaria is printed (the territory from the Caspian Sea to the Pacific Ocean and India).
Hall of the Grand Council in the Palazzo Ducale
On the luxuriously decorated walls and ceiling of the College room, you can see the ceiling and panels by Veronese and Tintoretto. It was here that the most important decisions of the government of the republic were once taken. In the hall of the Magistrate, little-known paintings and triptychs of I. Bosch and other Dutch artists are exhibited. The Senate Hall is decorated with Tintoretto ceiling panels.
Almost the entire south wing of the palace is occupied by the Great Council Hall (54 × 25 × 15 m), which is considered the largest room in the world without internal ceilings and columns and has the most ambitious of the famous paintings - Tintoretto's canvas "Paradise" (22 × 7 m).
The Secret Rooms of the Doge's Palace in Venice
The Doge's Palace has three floors, not counting the floor of the loggias, with many halls and small rooms, intended for the work of countless office of the Republic and holding meetings. Since 1923, paintings, weapons, and armor have been exhibited there.
However, not all of the premises of the palace retained their original appearance. The French, who captured Venice in 1797, took many paintings by famous artists to the Louvre. Including the ceiling panel Veronese "Zeus strikes lightning flaws" (now in its place a copy) from the Council of Ten Hall, where the Tribunal was sitting, passing sentences to languishing criminals nearby. Nearby - that is, a floor above where under the roof there was one of the old prisons - Piombi.
Box for denunciations in the Doge's Palace
The roof was covered with lead plates, and in the heat glowed to unimaginable temperatures, and in the cold - literally chilled the soul, freezing the body.
In addition to Piombo, the Doge's Palace also had a prison Pozzi ("wells"), in the basement, at the water level in the canals. The criminals under the roof and underground were kept in inhuman conditions. At one time, the prisoners of Piombi were Giordano Bruno and Casanova, who nevertheless escaped from prison, which no one had previously succeeded.
Bridge of Sighs links Doge's Palace to the new prison
By the way, despite the fact that there were not so few cells in both prisons, in the XVI century. a separate building was built to contain criminals.
From the Doge's Palace a new prison Carchery only a narrow channel separates famous Bridge of Sighs, so named because through its barred windows led to the cell or to the execution they could take a farewell look at the city and sigh, grieving for their fate. The secret premises of the palace include, in addition to prisons and the Council of Ten Hall, the Council of Three (Inquisition) hall, the torture hall and the sentencing room (scaffold).
Doge's Palace Tickets
Venice is beautiful at any time of the year. Tour operators and independent travelers have long been aware of this, so it is unlikely that they will be able to purchase tickets to the Doge's Palace out of turn. However, the lineup is usually not as large as, for example, in the Colosseum.
Besides, Doge's Palace ticketsAs a rule, they are sold “in conjunction” with the possibility of visiting other sights of Venice: 4 museum San MarcoPass - ticket for 4 museums in St. Mark's Square, 11 museum Venice Pass - “travel” with a wider range of applications. You can learn more about them and order online here.
Another thing is that, even having one of the above mentioned tickets in hand, a very unpleasant incident opens on the spot. It turns out in the scope of their action not included the very secret rooms of the Palace and the Bridge of Sighs, which, of course, are of most interest to many tourists - from those who want to look at the camera of Giacomo Casanova or the famous torture hall of the Venetian Republic there is always no end.
Lion of St. Mark, Doge's Palace
These rooms are part of a separate 75-minute tour, a ticket for which also has to be bought separately. Moreover, the number of excursions is limited, and on a typical day there are no more than 3 of them.
Once the solution to the problem of visiting The Secret Rooms of Doge's Palace became the introduction of opportunity booking excursions online. However, with the development of online shopping, this only aggravated the situation with the availability of such tickets at the box office on the spot (which is especially felt during the high tourist season).
On the other hand, now everyone is in an equal position, and if visiting Venice without inspecting the Casanova’s camera seems to you inferior, you can book a ticket for the tour here.
By the way, in 2016, BlogoItaliano separately shot a video on how to book tickets for the most interesting sights of Italy online:
|Check ticket availability and prices ›››|
Schedule and how to get
Doge's Palace is open to visitors all year, except December 25 and January 1. In the period from April 1 to October 31, the Palace is open from 8:30 to 19:00. From November 1 to March 31, an abbreviated schedule is in effect - from 8:30 to 17:30. And in the warm and cold periods of the year, admission of visitors ceases an hour before closing.
You can get to the Palace on Vaporetti:
From Piazzale Roma or Santa Lucia Station: Route No. 1 - stops Vallaresso or San Zaccaria, No. 2 - Giardinetti, No. 5.1 and 4.1 - San Zaccaria
From Lido di Venezia: Route No. 1 - stops Vallaresso or San Zaccaria, No. 5.2 - San Zaccaria
Interesting related links:
- Sights of Venice where you can buy tickets online
- When to go to Venice
- The most romantic Venice hotels: TOP-5 according to BlogoItaliano
- How to get from Rome to Venice and from Venice to Rome
- How to get from Venice to Florence and / or from Florence to Venice
- How to get from Milan to Venice and / or from Venice to Milan
Photos by: Gwenael Piaser, Ngai, welshbaloney, JeffFran, netNicholls, rockpaperscissors2012, doc 1.0.