Results 1-10of 24 Reviews
Gravesend, United Kingdom
September 20, 2012
From journal The most beautiful city in the world.
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
July 20, 2010
From journal The Souls of Venice
October 16, 2009
From journal Venice the Jewel of the Adriatic
by Liam Hetherington
Manchester, United Kingdom
February 21, 2007
From journal We Open In Venice...
New Delhi, India
July 8, 2006
We bought our entry tickets (€12 per person, less if you’re a student, a senior citizen, or part of a group) and entered the massive courtyard at the centre of the palace. Here, the major sight is the Giant Staircase, a structure named for the two massive marble figures that stand atop it on either side. The staircase was used exclusively for the Doge’s inaugurations.
We then made our way to the starting point of the Palazzo Ducale tour, the Golden Staircase. Vividly decorated in gilt and stucco, the staircase led us up to a corridor overlooking the courtyard. Studded in the wall of this corridor is the infamous Bocca dei Leoni (`Lion’s Mouth’), in which Venetians could drop anonymous letters denouncing fellow citizens. The Lion’s Mouth was once symbolic of the intrigue that was so much a part of Venice; today it’s blocked up with a piece of metal.
The trail next led through a series of rooms: the Doge’s Apartments and the Institutional Chambers (used by the Council of ten for judicial and legislative purposes) came first. Each of these chambers is splendidly decorated, with intricately carved and gilded wooden ceilings, and loads of paintings by some of the most famous painters of Venice- Veronese, Bellini, Tintoretto, and Bassano among them. The pictures run the gamut of subjects: there are Biblical scenes, depictions of battle, scenes from mythology (The Rape of Europa by Veronese being one of the most famous) and, as you’d probably expect, plenty of portraits of the rich and famous of Venice. The Sala del Maggior Consiglio (Great Council Hall) has a continuous panel of paintings (by Tintoretto, whose Paradiso, probably the world’s largest oil painting, is also here) depicting each of the 76 Doges of Venice. Or all except one, whose painting was summarily blacked out after he was found guilty of treason.
Beyond these luxurious apartments and offices lies the Armoury. It’s crowded with swords, shields, pikes, muskets, pistols, helmets, armour and other weaponry, all well-polished and dangerous. From the Armoury, the route moves on, over the famous Ponte Dei Sospiri (The `Bridge of Sighs’), to the graffiti-covered cells of the Prison. The Prison’s interiors are very grim and bare, and one can well imagine the despair that gripped most inmates- including perhaps Casanova, who was one of the few who succeeded in escaping!
The route leads back, again over the Ponte Dei Sospiri, to the Palazzo Ducale, where it ends.
In the final analysis, I’d say the €12 is money well spent: the palace is spectacular, the history engrossing, and the art of the finest.
From journal Venice: Another Name for Romance
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
by Ed Hahn
Hong Kong, China
September 3, 2005
We basically wander around trying to see everything. I am particularly fascinated by what I learn about the governing system of Venice. It was a republic that operated as an oligarchy. A vast bureaucracy of elected civil servants, committees and councils was presided over by the only figure elected for life, the doge. The system of elected doges lasted for over 1000 years, from 697 to 1789. Interestingly, a really incompetent or evil duke would not last very long. He would just happen to die sooner than he would have from natural causes so the leaders could choose a more suitable candidate. The most famous example is Marino Faliero, the 55th doge. He was appointed in 1354 and by 1355 was plotting a coup to declare himself prince. When he was caught he pleaded guilty, was beheaded, mutilated and all traces of him were expunged from history and memory. His place among the paintings of the 76 doges in the Hall of the Great Council is empty, covered by a black veil.
The first version of the palace was raised in the ninth century but it wasn’t until 1340 that the present building really took shape. Work continued until 1438 when the last piece, the grand entrance was finished. Work on the palace has never really stopped and even today there is a constant effort to maintain, refurbish and restore the building and its contents.
We enter through a side door, into a large courtyard. We can see there is a mix of styles, as successive doges tried to make the palace ever more magnificent. The columns surrounding the courtyard are elaborately carved. Sculptures are scattered about representing scenes from the bible. In the southwest corner there is an enormous staircase, the Scala dei Giganti, overlooked by huge statues of Neptune and Mars. This is where the Doge and his officials received visiting dignitaries.
We ascend the highly gilded "Golden Staircase" and stroll through the doge’s private and public rooms, filled with frescos by Tintoretto, Titian, Veronese and other lesser known artists. We finally reach the aforementioned Hall of the Great Council, perhaps the most magnificent room in the palace. We also visit the armory which has fascinating weapon exhibits. Descending into the building’s bowels, we cross the Bridge of Sighs, so named because it provided prisoners a last look at Venice. We explore the ‘new’ prison, built in the 17th century. Casanova is the only person known to have escaped this horrible place.
We wanted to spend more time here but we become thirsty, hungry and weary and decide to leave.
Open daily. Entry in combination with the Correr Museum: €16. Photo shooting in courtyard only.
From journal Venal Venice - Beautiful and Decaying
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
Oxford, United Kingdom
September 15, 2011
Cruising The Eastern Med-Again!
by Julie Hood
Galveston, Texas, Texas
July 16, 2000
From journal Venice on foot