The Palazzo Ducale, or in English the Doge Palace, is a fine example of Gothic architecture, and was in the past the center of government and the residence of the Doge. The current building was built in the 14th century, but the façade towards Piazzeta San Marco is from the 15th century. The palace is presently a museum. The building is composed of a massive structure supported by beautiful carved columns and sculptures. Part of the building faces the Grand Canal and is a beautiful first sight arriving in San Marco, and part of it faces Piazzeta San Marco.
The 9th and 10th columns in red marble, were in the past, where the death sentences were announced.
The main entrance to the Palazzo, called Porta della Carta connects the Palace to Basilica San Marco, and was the work of the Bon brothers back in the 15th century. It is surrounded by beautiful carvings and a sculpture depicting Doge Francesco Foscari and the San Marco Lion. The Doge is kneeling before the lion as a symbolism of the power of the state.
After entering, you get to a beautiful courtyard with impressive ornamentation, of Renaissance influence, contrasting with the Gothic style of the building. Walking in you get to the Scala dei Giganti (Giant’s Scale) that leads to the 1st floor. It was on these stairs that coronation occurred, and it was also here that Doge Faliero was decapitated due to be accused of treason, back in the middle of the 14th century.
When you climb the stairs, to the left you find the Senator’s Chamber – Cortile dei Senatori, the place where, back then, the senators gathered.
After ascending the stairs we got to Scala D’Oro, the monumental and impressive staircase by Sansovino, and headed to the different rooms, one more impressive than the other, from Sala delle Quattro Porte, to il Collegio, sala del Senato, Sala Consiglio dei Dieci, Sala della Bussola and the magnificent Sala del Maggior Consiglio. The most famous Venetian artists of the time, such as Tintoretto, Titian and Paolo Veronese, were of course involved in the decoration works.
Magnificence everywhere – entrance to Sala del Collegio
We then headed to the Prison and the Bridge of Sighs, that stay right at the end of the Palazzo Ducale. The prison is composed by two wings, the old (Prigoni Vecchie) and the new (Prigoni Nuove), connected since by a very famous and worldwide known bridge: Ponte dei Sospiri or Bridge of Sighs. The bridge was designed by Contino in the 17th century. According to the legend the name of the bridge comes from prisoners taking a very last look at freedom before being incarcerated, and sighing due to their dark life ahead.
Casanova, the famous Italian lover (who was much more than that, from a gambler to church cleric, to a librarian in Bohemia) was imprisoned here and staged a rather spectacular escape back in 1755, helped by a monk. Casanova was in exile for 18 years and in 1774 he was authorised to return to Venice. But he could not stay low profile, oh no. In 1783 he wrote a satire of the Venetian nobility and was again expelled from Venice. Casanova died in 1798 with 73 years old.
But well, how could I not tell you one more example of us being dummies in Venice? I did tell you it was raining cats and dogs right? And that our shoes were soaking wet right? Yes, but what I did not tell you yet, was that all along the way to the hotel and from there to Piazza San Marco we saw several people using a kind of plastic boots. It did not cross our mind that it would be a nice idea to buy a pair, duhhhhhh.
So after leaving Palazzo Ducale we decided it was time to be intelligent and bought ourselves a pair of these so fashionable boots. They were (almost) the BEST buy in Italy. The quality of life they gave us compensates for the 10 Euro paid. If you go there and there is a slight change of raining, BUY it. Please do.
With warm (and almost dry) feet, we then headed to another of San Marco Square museums, included in the Venezia card – The Correr Museum, dedicated to civic history. The Venezia pass includes Correr Museum, Archaeological Museum, and the Biblioteca Marciana all next to one another.
The name of Correr Museum, comes from the Venetian aristocrat Teodoro Correr, who left in his last will and testament paintings, drawings, coins, seals, and classical antiquities to the museum.
The final part of the Museo Correr is the Sansovinian Library – Libreria Sansoviniana, a magnificent building with a superb historical collection
And it was the end of our visit to Correr Museum. We still tried to have a coffee at the beautiful and charming cafeteria, but it was closed. What a view it has, transports you back to centuries ago.
And so Part 2 ends, part 3 and Day 2 to follow, mainly with photographs as the immense beauty is worthy of a pic shower , stay tuned