Results 11-20of 24 Reviews
May 22, 2004
Don't miss the small museum on the ground floor, which displays the original colonnades and stonework. It is small, but quite empty of visitors. Barring this, most visitors arrive at the courtyard first. It is expansive and impressive, and you may use cameras here. In fact, you can use your camera in any of the technically "outdoor" parts of the palazzo. You can also use your camera if you point it through a window. Some people were using cameras indoors and it was unclear whether this was permitted or not. Certainly, nobody stopped them from doing so.
The interior of the palace features rooms of state as well as the private rooms of the doge. He worked at home, having only to walk down a flight of stairs. Take the impressive Golden Staircase to the Doge's Apartments. Actually, you won't have much choice in where you go. Velvet-roped barriers prevent visitors from taking their own path around the palace and you will be guided much like sheep throughout. Great works of arts adorn the walls throughout these halls. If you are as impatient as I, you will pass through quickly, only briefly stopping to consider each work of art.
To reach the prisons, you cross the famous Bridge of Sighs. Crossing the Bridge of Sighs is as claustrophobic as bridges get. From the inside, the covered bridge is small. Descending into the prisons is even more harrowing. You could imagine your own fear rising, had you been clad in chains and sentenced to life in the Doge's prisons. The prisons are similar to Alcatraz, showing that conditions do not change much over the centuries. You can even make out some graffiti on the walls. A tiny courtyard that breaks up the monotony of stone hallways shows that prisoners certainly didn't get much exercise.
If only I had known about the Secret Itinerary! I read later in my guidebook that this special tour covers the torture chambers and the interrogation rooms. That's my kind of tourism.
From journal The Other Side of Venice
London, United Kingdom
March 9, 2004
The fabulous and unique building was the centre of power during the Venetian heyday, not only acting as the palace of the Doge, but also as the seat of government. The splendidly ornamented nature of the exterior not only reflects the republic's affluence and power, but combined with the lack of strong fortifications also illustrates just how secure the elite felt from internal strife and invasion.
Externally the structure is easily the finest example of the typically florid version of Gothic architecture, which has a lighter feel than the more usual examples of the style found elsewhere in Europe. The façades of the lower two storeys, which overlook the square and waterfront, feature rows of elegantly proportioned and ornate arches. In addition, a beautifully simple geometric pattern of interwoven white and pink stone covers the upper portions of the walls, further enhancing the already appealing effect.
The elaborately carved 15th century Paper Door is, now as in the glory days of the past, the main entrance to the lovely central courtyard. The Giant's Staircase, with its massive statues of Mars and Neptune, leads up to the distinctively floored galleries that overlook both the enclosed space below and the square outside.
From the first floor terrace, a fixed route through the interior starts with the ascent of an exuberant gilded internal stairway. In general terms, the second storey hosts the former residential quarters, whilst the level above is where the important governmental branches operated, and the décor of both mostly dates from a restoration undertaken during 1500s following a devastating fire. Fortunately, numerous Renaissance heavyweights, such as Carpaccio and Veronese, lived in the vicinity at the time of the disaster, and contributed a wealth of art that cover the walls and even the ceilings of the chambers, forming a magnificent display that overwhelmed my senses, and surely has had the same effect on visitors for several hundred years. There are simply too many rooms to describe in individual detail, but probably the single most amazing is the immense Hall of the Great Council, which previously hosted meetings of up to a couple of thousand patricians, and is still home to Tintoretto's Paradise, one of the largest paintings in the world.
Finally, also of note is the chance to walk through the legendary Bridge of Sighs, which is a certainly interesting experience, although far less scenic than seeing it from the outside. The romantic and evocative name is a later poetic invention based upon the imagined sounds issued by the various reprobates who would had the misfortune to make the short trip across to the prisons.
From journal Venice - The serene city of canals
October 30, 2003
We started with a brief look at the first floor rooms, huge rooms with high ceilings and magnificent art work both on the ceilings and walls. Then we made our way up secret passages to the rather dull and painting free rooms that housed some interesting characters. These 'characters' included a panel of judges that spent their nights ruling over criminals who were housed in cells on the same floor. The prisoner's cells were TINY -- granted, humans are generally taller than they were 1100 years ago. One of the most famous inmates was a certain charmer named Casanova. Part of the excitement of the tour is the tale of Casanova's bold escape. I won't spoil it by retelling it -- it's something one must travel to Venice to see and experience.
We also marvelled at the torture methods used on prisoners to 'give it up'. One notable one was the practice of hanging people by their arms above their heads until they basically dislocated.
The tour also includes information about the governing system of the time -- certainly struck me as being ahead of its time and a pity that it didn't last. One law that fascinated me was that it was illegal and lawfully punishable to litter in the canals . . . one would assume that back then the water was filthier than it is now! Also amazing was how the palace, which is basically a wood pile waiting to ignite, has survived through the years.
After the tour we could use our passes to walk around the rest of the palace. It is quite a large structure so you may want to start your day with the tour and then the palace itself. Of course, you should also take a walk through the dungeons below and the . . . Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs). The only really 'excessive' show of wealth that I noted was the Scala d’Oro (staircase). There's more of a 'tasteful' use of art as opposed to a tacky show of wealth. Unfortunately, one is not allowed to take photos . . . if you try, the old lady will give you a talking to and you don't want a talking to from an old lady.
From journal The Venetian Shuffle
June 4, 2003
Initially, I was a little put off at the prospect of spending a couple of hours exploring a stuffy museum on a sunny day. However, it really is worth taking the time to visit as it's one of the most unique buildings of it's type in Europe . . . and beyond.
There are tours but I would recommend arming yourself with a copy of a good guide book and following the route as signposted. The Rough Guide to Venice has an adequate section with enough detail to keep you informed without boring you to tears.
On your tour, the highlights include the Bridge of Sighs, Sala del Maggior Consiglio - the largest room in Europe - and the numerous artworks which embellish the walls.
The entrance fee of approx 10€ may seem on the pricey side but it's worth every penny.
From journal Venetian Easter Break
Leeds, United Kingdom
October 21, 2002
Located on St Mark's Square, the building itself is a fabulous example of bizarre architecture from the outside. Inside, it is a rabbit warren of over the top rooms, dripping in gold leaf, with murals in place of wall paper by the top artists of the period (dependent upon which Doge was in power at the time). The whole was definitely designed with the sole intention of making any visitors very much aware of the incredible power of the Doge, and how much less significant they were!
I would recommend getting there as early as possible (it opens at 9) unless you particularly want to go round in a tour group. Not being a huge fan of these, we managed to get round ahead of most parties. We were quite happy reading the signs in each room, which were quite detailed, and following the arrows round the building. However, if you want a bit more help, we saw lots of people using CD players, which had a digital display showing the room you were standing in, and where you should be for each bit of commentary.
Even without lots of commentary, it took us a good 2 hours to get round and look at everything. Make sure you wander everywhere you can get to - we nearly missed a big bit of the prisons because of a sign which had been twisted. If it's not roped off, explore!
The best parts for me were undoubtedly the prisons (not great for the claustrophobic) and the enormous reception and conference rooms, although the idea of trying to make any useful decisions whilst being stared at by battle scenes, including one memorable one with a man with an arrow through the top of his head, is not entirely appealing! The Bridge of Sighs was definitely more beautiful from outside than within, although there were good views to be had up an down the narrow canal there.
All in all, an extremely well presented, fascinating palace, and an extremely good value for money visit.
From journal Autumn in Venice
Cinnaminson, New Jersey
May 12, 2002
Combined entry ticket cost 9.5 euros
When you buy a ticket, it allows you entry in Doge’s Palace, Museum Correr, Archeological museum and the library. It is a combined ticket and I recommend that you visit all of the museums. So let’s start with Doge’s Palace.
Located literally right next door to San Marco Cathedral, this building doesn’t look very large from the outside, but only when you go through all the halls with painted ceilings and walls, Senate rooms, look at the size of each of these halls and what each doge tried to bring with him, you realize the enormity of all of this. The building was built in 14-15th centuries and is a real masterpiece of the Gothic architecture. The outside walls are made out of pick Verona marble and the first 2 floors are supported by white arches of colonnades. Inside the court shows the white stoned walls with statues and ornaments around each column, and a large gorgeous staircase with painted steps on the side which was used for ceremonies. Inside there are ceilings with frescoes by Tiepolo and a painting of Titian. I was really impressed by Sala del Maggior Consiglio, the hall of the great council, which is significantly larger than the Sistine Chapel and is covered with paintings. The eastern wall which is 25 by 81 ft has a painting by Tintorettos (father and son) of Paradise which is considered one of the largest paintings in the world. You also get a glance of the prison and can go inside a cell if you want.
From journal Italy in May - Venice
April 24, 2002
From journal Italy: Venizia
March 21, 2002
Politics apart, it's the art the really stands out here. Everything is gigantic, from the sculptures that surround the Sala dei Giganti, to the paintings that decorate pretty much every chamber. You can easily see where these politicians put the money of the state.
From journal Austria and Italy under the sunshine-V
November 20, 2001
The Palazzo Ducale was the seat of the Venetian government and the home of its ruling duke, or doge, for 400 years. The palace was built to show off the power and wealth of the Venetian Republic. The facades of the building have been newly restored. In the courtyard, notice the doge's private entrance into the Basilica di San Marco, and the grand staircase that everyone had to climb to see the doge. As one guidebook put it, "this was the beginning of an architectural power trip." The tour is a one-way trip through his quarters, the public rooms on the top floor, the Bridge of Sighs and the prison.
The doge's quarters are on the first floor, near the halls of power. As the elected-for-life ruler of this "republic", he lived here with his family. Beyond his quarters, you see (among other rooms) the Senate room, Armory and the Hall of the Grand Council. The Hall of the Grand Council is where the entire nobility met to elect the Senate and the Doge. The hall is 180 feet long with a capacity of 2,000 people. Behind the throne is Tintoretto's Paradise, which is the world's largest oil painting.
Crossing the Bridge of Sighs, you enter the prisons. The doges could jail, sentence and punish their enemies within the walls of their own home. Yikes.
If you don't have a good guidebook, the L7,000 audioguides (available in English, French, German and Italian) are worth the money. There is a short English description in each room in the palace, but the audioguide has much more detail.
From journal A View of Venice
July 11, 2001
From journal The "Wander" and Wonder of Venice