About The Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s Palace of Venice (Palazzo Ducale di Venezia) is a gothic style structure in St. Mark’s Square which served as the residence of each successive ‘Doge’ or leader of the Venetian Republic until its fall in 1797.
History of the Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s Palace housed the Republic’s administrative centre, hall of justice, prison, public archive and senate house.
Whilst the current Doge’s Palace was probably constructed from 1309 to 1424, it is thought that the original palace dated back to the 10th or 11th century and was probably a fortified structure protected by thick walls and guard towers, of which traces have survived.
A new Doge’s Palace was built under Doge Sebastiano Ziani in the 12th century following the devastation of the original by a fire in the tenth century. This structure was then renovated and vastly extended in a series of construction projects in the 14th and 15th centuries, much of which was necessary due to numerous fires, including one in 1483 and another in 1577.
Nevertheless, much of the original structure and artwork remain today, including some by artists such as Filippo Calendario and Guariento di Arpo. The Bridge of Sighs was added in around 1600, linking the Doge’s Palace to the prison.
However, when Napoleon Bonaparte occupied the city, prompting the fall of the Venetian Republic, the role of the Doge’s Palace inevitably changed, and today it is a museum managed by the Venice Museum Authority.
The Doge’s Palace today
One can now either tour the Doge’s Palace independently with audio tours or take the pre-booked 75 minute secret itinerary tour, which includes a visit to the prison cell of the infamous Giacomo Casanova and other parts of the building only accessible through this tour as they’re too small to allow the masses in. The wealth of history and architecture, including the Bridge of Sighs and the Scala d’Oro make the Doge’s Palace a fascinating attraction.
The Doge’s Apartments host temporary art exhibitions: check what’s on before you visit. To visit costs an additional fee (normally around €10) but can be very worthwhile.
Getting to the Doge’s Palace
It’s hard to miss the Doge’s Palace – situated next to St Mark’s Basilica on the waterfront, almost every boat arriving in Venice stops close by. Gondolas will be able to get you here for a high price, or you can easily walk from anywhere in the city.