As one of the most popular attractions in Venice, it is worth turning up early to avoid the crowds – especially if you’re visiting in summer.
In a city renowned for its world-class architecture, the doge’s palace is arguably the jewel in the crown. Rising majestically above the waters of the Grand Canal on St. Mark’s Square, it enjoys one of the finest locations in the city and has become a symbol of Venetian historical and cultural pride.
The Pride of Venice
Although the city’s seat of government occupied various forts and complexes on this site dating back to the early 9th century, construction on the current palace did not begin until 1340. Multiple renovations and extensions altered its appearance over the years, as did damage caused by at least three large fires, but the classic Venetian Gothic style has remained. Despite the palace’s impressive size, it is not imposing, with its intricate stonework, delicate arches and multicoloured façade lending an appealing lightness to the building’s overall aesthetic.
In The Lap of Luxury
Inside, the palace complex feels even larger than it looks from the square. You can wander through the vast accommodation suites where the doge used to live, and it is hard not to feel slightly overwhelmed by the endless opulence of the place. Paintings by Italian masters adorn mahogany-panelled walls, and marble fireplace friezes vie for attention with exquisitely-carved wooden ceilings. The six-roomed museum showcases numerous impressive columns and capitals that form a sort of history of the development of the palace. In the bowels of the building are the dungeons, where confessions were once tortured out of prisoners before they were led out for execution. Attached to this part of the palace is the famous Bridge of Sighs, named for the hopelessness of the condemned crossing it.
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