Venice has been ruled by Doge's for many centuries starting from the dark ages when much like many other Italian towns it was a city state. The Doge was the ultimate authority in charge of the fiefdom and in 810 the Venetian Doge decided to move his residence to the Realtine Islands that now form the heart of Venice.
The grand Gothic Palace constructed in 1340 replaced two earlier version of which little is known other than their relatively modest size and decoration. To a large degree the palace built in the 14th century remains today despite a fire in the 15th century and thanks to a large amount of restoration work that was regularly done century after century.
The building of the Palace surrounds a large private courtyard with the Basilica di San Marco on the north side. Inside the building are a number of very distinct areas, each showcasing a different aspect of the Palace's illustrious past.
The Museo dell'Opera occupies 6 rooms within the palace and showcases historic sculpture and pieces of the palace's façade that were removed as part of a large-scale 19th century restoration project. Replaced by better quality and longer lasting copies, the original works of art were preserved and can now be seen here.<
The Doge's Residence is a grand private apartment in which the Doges of Venice resided for the majority of the Medieval and early Classical period. With lush velvet, carved wood and ornamental furniture, this is one of the finest examples of royal quarters from Italy's past.
A large part of the Palace was devoted to governmental functions as part of the Institutional Chambers with a large number of rooms serving as various council offices and courts of law. These rooms took up the majority of the Palace and now offer a unique perspective on the lives of the aristocracy of the time and the way Venice was governed.
The back part of the building leads to the infamous Bridge of Sighs which was the last place convicted prisoners had the opportunity to see a glimpse of the outside world before being locked up in one of the Palace's prisons. Prisoners were usually kept in cells in the basement and dried up wells or in the upper parts of the building just below the roof which meant that conditions were dire and temperatures ranged from freezing to overwhelmingly hot. Famously, Giacomo Casanova was held prisoner here and even managed an elaborate escape through the roof.
January 1st to March 31st
April 1st to October 31st
November 1st to December 31st
Entry to Palazzo Ducale
Piazza San Marco 1