The Palazzo Ducale, Doge’s Palace, is one of the most important buildings in Venetian architecture. Since the 9th century, the Doge and the governmental and administrative bodies of the Republic of Venice have had their headquarters here. The palace is connected to a prison wing via the Bridge of Sighs.
During our stay in Venice, we passed the entrance to the Doge’s Palace at least twice a day. No matter what time, there was always a long queue at the entrance that didn’t move forward at all. So our visit was constantly postponed.
But as it happens, when you plan something else… then suddenly the entrance is deserted. Our first thought, the palace is closed! But we were really lucky and were able to go straight to the ticket office without having to queue. In hindsight, we would buy tickets online next time!
From the outside, the Doge’s Palace is a jumbled construction that was built from the middle of the 14th century until around the middle of the 15th century. Each doge brought his ideas with him and had as many of them as possible implemented during his term of office. The east wing burnt down in 1483 and was rebuilt. Between 1563 and 1616 a new prison area was built, connected to the courts in the north wing by the Ponte dei sospiri, the Bridge of Sighs.
The entire palace stands on a foundation of tree trunks and Istrian stone. During the tour, I was particularly impressed by the marble cladding and the coloured marble spa stations. The preference for the coloured building decoration, which brings a fairytale-like impression to the Doge’s Palace, is striking.
I was also impressed by the countless sculptures that can be seen in the inner courtyard. Biblical figures such as Adam and Eve, the tree of knowledge with the snake or Noah with his sons can be found here.
The red columns on the first floor are impressive and somewhat oppressive. They are a little more intense in colour than the other columns. The death sentences were pronounced between these columns. When I stood there and looked up, I could really feel what people must have felt at that time, waiting for a verdict.
I found the Porta della Carta beautiful, where official government announcements are said to have been published. Petitions of the citizens could also be handed in here.
The Scala dei Giganti also impressed me. It is true that this staircase can no longer be used today, as the danger that the last of the four staircases of the inner courtyard would also be destroyed is too great. The sculptures of Mars and Neptune stand at the top of the staircase, which is completely covered in marble.
The entire inner courtyard was once freely accessible to the people of Venice. Not only was the doge’s coronation held here, but festivals and tournaments were also organised.
The visit to the Doge’s Palace does not end with this impressive courtyard. You can also visit some of the interior rooms. Here, I was particularly impressed by the ceiling designs.
I was also captivated for a while by the view from one of the windows of the colourful hustle and bustle on the piers.
My highlight of the tour, however, was the prison. This is spread over two building complexes connected by the most famous of all bridges – the Bridge of Sighs!
In the Doge’s Palace there were only a few prison cells, all of which were very wet. This was mainly where the state prisoners and high traitors were held. As these cells became insufficient over time, the new state prison was built, into which the prisoners entered via the Bridge of Sighs. The name of this bridge is said to have come from the sighs of the criminals, who saw daylight for the last time while walking across it.
As a visitor today, you can visit the complex and walk across the narrow bridge. We also looked through the small holes in the bridge and could feel how the prisoners must have felt.
I was very impressed!
San Marco, 1,
closed 25.12. und 1.1.
A single ticket for: Doge’s Palace and the extended tour, which includes the Museo Correr, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale and the monumental halls of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana.
It is possible to buy tickets online in advance.