Proudly situated in St Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace enjoys prime place, both in location and in popularity as a Venice attraction. A majestic piece of Gothic architecture, the Palace is comprised of 14th & 15th century structures and showcases some of Venice’s finest sculptural facades.
The inside of the Palace is just as impressive with grand golden-framed rooms, antique treasures, sculpted marble figures and pieces from Italian greats such as Titian and Tiepolo.
I spent a happy hour wandering the Palace, taking in room after beautiful room with artistic scenes adorning every ceiling and wall. I would recommend taking some time to appreciate the added historical items displayed around the Palace. My personal favourite being a mouth of truth found on a closet room wall, silently waiting to bite the fingers from liars that dare put their hand inside.
The Lion of St Mark is also present as guardian throughout the various rooms. The winged feline is a symbol of the city of Venice and pays tribute to the evangelist St Mark, whose remains lay at rest in the nearby Basilica.
The Doge’s Palace was not only the seat of power for the Doge, the most powerful politician of the Venetian republic. It also served as a courtroom and prison. Those unfortunate enough to find themselves being led from judgment through an interconnecting tunnel to the prison. Small gaps in the decorative tunnel walls allowed prisoners a final glimpse of Venice with most emitting a bittersweet sigh at the scene before stepping down into the depths of the underground cells, so gifting the tunnel with its name, The Bridge of Sighs.
Step into one of the prison cells as you trace your way around the prison and you get a sense of how bleak life here would have been for those locked away in the darkness.
After experiencing the murkiness of the jail quarters, make your way back to the light and out into the Palace courtyard, where you can admire the outstanding decor of the staircases and sculpture on offer at every turn.
If you plan to visit The Doge’s Palace while in Venice, purchasing an advance ticket online is a worthwhile investment. Tickets sell out quickly on the door and peak times can be extremely busy so think about seeing the Palace towards the beginning or end of the day.
The Secret Itineraries tour and Guided tours are a must for those travel in groups of two or more, with different language tours available. Multi-tickets are another option and mine included entry to the Museo Correr, Museo Archeologico Nazionale and the Biblioteca Marciana where special exhibitions are often held.
The Doge’s Palace is one of many attractions to be found in Venice, but it is also one you will unlikely forget. Why not take a well-deserved exploration break and enjoy a leisurely look at this fascinating piece of Italy’s history.