Piazza San Marco, 1 Venice
One of the top must-see landmarks on any tour of Venice is the Doge’s Palace – or, Palazzo Ducale in Italian.
The Doge’s Palace was originally built on the Malamocco island nearby. In the 800s, the Doge Angelo Partecipazio decided to transfer the building to the island of Venice, at which point the Doge’s Palace was constructed along the water’s edge by St Mark’s Square. Alas, this building was completely destroyed by fire just a couple of centuries later. Another built in its place in the 1100s was then radically altered when a restructuring of the government required adjustments to the building.
The current structure of the Doge’s Palace just by Venice’s St Mark’s Square dates back to around 1340.
The Doge’s Palace served not only as the residence of the Doge but also to accommodate official institutions. To this end, in the 1600s the famous Bridge of Sighs was constructed to link the Palazzo Ducale to an adjacent prison.
Until the Napoleonic takeover of Venice in 1797, the Doge’s Palace remained as the seat of the Doge of Venice, head of the Republic of Venice. At this point in time however, Venice fell into the hands of the French and then the Austrians. It was only in 1866 that Venice returned to Italy.
Throughout this turbulent period in Venice’s history, the Doge’s Palace served various uses including for official political and cultural offices and even a library, Biblioteca Marciana.
At the end of the 1800s, the building was in desperate need of some TLC. The government undertook great restoration works before in 1923, allowing the Doge’s Palace to be turned into a must-see Venice museum.
Its unique history has seen the façade bear the marks of several architectural influences, including Byzantine-Venetian, Classical, Gothic and Renaissance styles. Indeed today, the Doge’s Palace is one of Venice’s most iconic images.
Although not officially a museum, the Doge’s Palace is home to some breathtaking sculptures, paintings and frescoes. All of this in addition to the majesticbeauty of the palace itself, official residence to the Doge (mayor) of Venice and seat of the region’s government in the centuries during which Venice was one of Europe’s most important cities.
Tintoretto’s Paradise (one of the world’s largest oil paintings) along with several of his frescoes
Veronese’s Rape of Europa
The Apotheosis of Venice
Sansovino’s enormous sculptures Mars and Venus
A Palladio fresco decorates the ceiling of one of the grand halls
The Doge’s private living quarters and the regal state rooms
Opening Hours: Daily 9:00 am – 7:00 pm (April – October); Daily 9 am- 5:30 pm (November – March); Also closed January 1, May 1 and December 25
Costs: Entrance fee to be paid in cash when picking up reserved tickets; 10 euro reservation fee per ticket
See our tour of the Doge's Palace