A Visit to The Doge’s Palace in Venice, Italy
This post is part of a continuing series about a Mediterranean Cruise I took with my thirteen year old daughter in the fall of 2012. After wandering the city of Venice for several hours, we visited The Doge’s Palace.
Overlooking the Grand Canal, Doge’s Palace was the seat of the government of Venice until it came under Napoleonic rule in 1797 and then in 1866, a part of Italy. Before then, the palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice.
Today the palace is a museum and you can walk through the Doge’s apartments; stand in the large rooms where court was held, decisions were made and foreign dignitaries hosted; and tour the dark dungeon-like prison which you reach by crossing the famous Bridge of Sighs.
On a previous visit to Venice, I had not toured the palace, so I was excited to go inside. It was around 3:30 in the afternoon when we went, and there was no entry line at all. Also, it was relatively empty on the inside, a great relief from the crowds in the square.
We spent a long time just in the courtyard, walking around the grand staircases and looking at the facades. These wells are from the 16th century. I love how San Marco (St Mark’s Cathedral) is rising behind the palace wall. The Doge had direct access to the cathedral, which was his personal chapel when it was first built.
You can take photographs in the courtyard and through the open windows of the palace, but not of the interior, so all our pictures are outside.
The light from the open windows made me want to take a picture out of each one. So many beautiful views from the palace.
I loved seeing the city from a different point of view.
The outer walkways were floored with these beautiful mosaics.
In so many of our walks through ports in Italy, we found ourselves completely enamored with the smaller architectural details, like floors, windows and doorways. Each one is a work of art in and of itself.
The courtyard columns fell into this category as well. Rolling pink and white marble make the whole building look kind of like a peppermint candy.
Mary Polly and I never got tired of seeing brides and grooms getting their pictures made on our cruise. This courtyard was one of many dreamy settings for bridal portraits that we saw on our trip.
The rooms inside the palace were as ornate as the outside facades, filled with paintings and frescoes, some by Tintoretto, including Tintoretto’s Paradise, which is reputed to be the largest painting ever done on canvas.
I mentioned that on my first trip to Venice, I didn’t see the interior of the Doge’s Palace. I had lists of art I wanted to see in Venice on that trip, so we spent most of our time touring various churches that housed scores of the paintings by Titian and Tintoretto, two famous Renaissance Venetians. I missed out on seeing Tintoretto’s palace paintings on that trip, so it was fun to get to include them on this visit.
In the armory, Mary Polly and I talked about how much the boys would have loved seeing the rooms full of old guns and swords, a history of weaponry of sorts.
From the armory, you walk through the tunnel that is the Bridge of Sighs.
When you cross the Bridge of Sighs to the prison, you can peek out at the canal and imagine a prisoner, sentenced to go to the dungeon, taking his last look at beautiful Venice.
All the people on the bridge below are photographing the Bridge of Sighs while you photograph them from the slots in the carved bridge.
After we finished our tour of the Doge’s Palace, we went around to the other side to get the opposite view of the Bridge of Sighs. From this direction, it seems like you could hardly see out of the windows.
The prison was another part of the tour we felt the boys would have enjoyed. There have been so many scenes in books and movies that feature palace prisons like these. It was just as you might imagine.
Dark, dank and cramped.
We were glad to emerge from the prison, with all its maze-like tunnels, and get back to the wide open palace courtyard.
We stopped one more time at this lovely staircase before we exited the palace. On the landing at the top of staircase, the doges in days past were crowned at the beginning of their rule over Venice.
Back in the square, we wandered under these columns and to the Grand Canal.
We sat on some steps by the canal to rest for a while and watch the boats and the people.
After a bit, the skies grew cloudy and a light rainfall drove us back under the columns of the square. We watched the rain for a while on the square as the museums and shops were closing before we made our way back to our boat.
By the time we got back to the Carnival Breeze that night it was dark and the boat was all lit up welcoming us back for the evening, a magical end to our day in Venice.