Results 1-10of 24 Reviews
Gravesend, United Kingdom
September 20, 2012
From journal The most beautiful city in the world.
Oxford, United Kingdom
September 15, 2011
Cruising The Eastern Med-Again!
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
July 20, 2010
From journal The Souls of Venice
October 16, 2009
From journal Venice the Jewel of the Adriatic
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
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
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
by Liam Hetherington
Manchester, United Kingdom
February 21, 2007
From journal We Open In Venice...
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