Doge’s Palace

The Doge’s Palace was the seat of the rulers of the Venetian Republic. It is located on the shores of the Venetian lagoon, not far away from St.Mark’s Basilica. In the 14th century the rulers of the city decide to build a grand palace which was to meet the power and strength of the Republic. The project for the Doges Palace belongs to Filippo Calendario. The construction began under his guidance. In 1355 however, Calendario was executed for committing treason. As a result of his untimely death the construction took place in two stages. The east wing was completed in 1340 while the west one was completed a hundred years later. The architectural style of the palace is referred to as Gothic with Byzantine influence.

Description: the Doge’s Palace /picture source:;

The Doge’s Palace consists of three wings. Two of them are based in the St.Mark’s Basilica and that is how an inner courtyard in the shape of a rectangle is formed. If you look at the façade overlooking St.Mark’s square, you cannot miss Porta della Carta. In the past this was the main entrance to the palace. It was constructed in 1438 by Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bonn.  The portal represents the doge Francesco Forscari known for the numerous victories he won for Venice, kneeling before the winged lion, a symbol of the city. The four sculptures around the gate symbolizes the four virtues – Fortitude, Charity, Temperance and Prudence. The name of the gate means “paper gate” and it comes from the fact that in the past this was the place where the government used to post its proclamations so that the people would be able to get to know to their content. The inner courtyard is beautifully marked by two-line marble arcade.  At its center there are two bronze basins for water storage. This water is considered by the Venetians for the best in the whole city. The Giant’s Staircase leads inside the palace. The name of the staircase is connected to the two giant statues which symbolize the power of the Republic both by land and by sea. It is the place where important ceremonies and celebrations took place, including the crowning of the Doge.


Description: inside the Doge’s Palace /picture source:;

The Doge’s apartments occupy only one of the three floors of the palace. They can be reached on the glorious Golden staircase which name was given because of its golden arch.  Today there is almost no furniture left in these apartments because it was stolen by Napoleon’s army. Another reason for the lack of furniture is that the position of the doge wasn’t hereditary and when a new one was chosen he brought his own furniture to the palace while the family of the previous doge took his furniture away. However there are magnificent fireplaces and intricately painted ceilings.


Description: the courtyard of the Doge’s Palace /picture source:;

The largest room in the palace, covering the whole south wing, is the Hall of the Great Council. The Great Council was a political organ of the Venetian Republic which was made up of more than 2000 people – all aristocrats over 25 years of age. During the sessions of the Council the patricians were proposing and discussing new laws. They were also proposing the people who held the most important positions in the state. The hall is richly decorated by ones of the most prominent artists of that period. At the centre of the ceiling is the painting of Jacopo Tintoretto “Venice, the queen of the sea”. The ovals are painted by Jacopo Palma Jr. and Paolo Varese. Beneath the ceiling starts a freeze which depicts the first 76 doges. Only one of them is missing. This one disgraced himself after he attempted a coup. The wall behind the throne podium is occupied by another masterpiece of Tintoretto and his son Domenico – “Paradise, a painting which is considered the largest oil painting in the world. A corridor leads from the Hall of the Great Council to the Voting Hall.  The preparation and the conduction of all public votes took place there, including the choice of doge. Its current decoration dates from the period after the fire from 1577. The paintings represent episodes from the military history of Venice, most of all the victories of the Venetians at East as well as the capture of Padua in 1405.


Description: the Doge’s Palace /picture source:;

The Doge’s Palace is not only known as the place the Venetian doges has live and ruled. It has also been a place where laws were created and justice was exercised. The Supreme Court held its sessions in the Hall of the Council of ten. The Council of ten was formed in 1310 as a temporary institution in connection to the uprising led by the nobleman Bajamonte Tiepolo against the doge who ruled back then.  Although the Council was supposed to exist for only two months, after their expiry it was renewed and became a permanent institution. It consisted of ten members, elected for one year period by the Great Council. In the Hall of the Council of ten a war against criminality was waged. Justice was quickly exercised in the Doge’s Palace. It varied from prison to beheading. Next to the Hall of the Council of ten there was the unfortunate “Lion’s mouth”.  Such lion’s mouths can be seen at other places in the city.  These mouths were used as boxes where secret denunciations were dropped. The Council of ten worked on these signals. The ceiling of the Hall of the Council of ten depicts Zeus, who strikes with thunder the vices. From the halls where the cases are heard a corridor leads to the Bridge of signs and from there to the dungeons where the prisoners were kept.

Address: Piazza San Marco 1;

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