The Palazzo Ducale of Venezia is composed of many different parts and additions, the first of which was built in 814. In the 12th century it was rebuilt in Byzantine style. The additions that were built in the 14 and 15 centuries gave it its gothic Venetian style. The inner court yard was added some time later, in pure renaissance style.
Note the perfect symmetry of the two facades of the palace, one facing the lagoon, the other facing the piazzetta. Under the top floor there are two arcades, the top one is a loggia – a gallery in a classical gothic style, the lower one is built of strong supportive pillars.
Behind the corner you can see the Porta della carta – the paper gate that was built by Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bon in 1442. The gate got its name from the writers that used to sit by it during the day offering their services to the public.
Pass through the gate to the tranquil inner court designed by Antonio Rizzo in 1498, on the Scala dei Giganti – stairs of the giants. The statues at the top of the stairs are Neptune and Mars by Sansovino.
Climb the giant steps until you get to two more huge staircases that lead to the top floor of the palace and then to the central floor. (The palace is open daily 9:00 – 17:30. The ticket is valid also for the Carrer museum, so it’s worth to save it) The central floor surrounds the inner yard on three sides. The central hall occupies the length of the palace on the side facing the water. The hall is decorated with Venetian school paintings of the late 16th century. The picture of Paradiso by Tintorreto and his students is one of the world’s greatest paintings. On another wall there are paintings by Veronese, Tintoretto and Palma di Giovanni depicting the apotheosis of Venice.
The next hall in the palace wing that faces the piazzetta is the Sale dello Scrutino – hall of election.
Leave the palace through the gilded staircase and the giant stairs. A few steps from the gate is Piazza San Marco. The piazza, surrounded by a row of pillars on three sides, has elegant shops and excellent coffee shops. Soon you will be surrounded by flocks of pigeons, maybe the most famous and photographed pigeons in the world. Every day at 14:00 the pigeons are fed on the end of the piazza away from the basilica. On the corner between the palazzo Riale and the basilica you will see Torre dell’Orlogio that was built in 1498. During the week of Ascension the door on the right of the statue of Virgin Mary opens every hour and an angel, with the three sages behind him march around the statue and go back.
Secret Itineraries tour
Secret Itineraries tour of Doge’s palace is a tour not to be missed. It is the only way to go into private rooms in the palace that are not normally open to the public.
You can book this tour when you enter the palace.
If you want to make a reservation, call 011 39 041 520 9070.
You will not be charged if you don’t show. You can also make an online reservation for extra charge on the Palazzo Ducale Venezia website.