The Doges Palace – Palazzo Ducale to the Italians - is one of the highlights of any trip to Venice.
The Doges Palace is one of those great buildings that exceeds all expectations.
On a sunny day the building appears to float above the Piazza, so typical of Venetian architecture, this whole feeling of light and magnificence conveyed so effortlessly.
Not withstanding the impression of lightness, this is a building where some of the most important decisions in Europe were once taken.
Initially built as a castle in the 11th century the whole place burnt down and was reconstructed as the present palace during the 14th century. No one is really sure who designed it but Filippo Calandario is the most likely candidate.
It was nearly destroyed again by fire in the 16th century. Despite many wishing to replace it with a more classical building it was thankfully restored faithfully.
The one or two minor classical additions, here and there, do nothing to detract from the previous design.
Open most days, a tour around the Doge's Palace is a must. The palace was not only a palace but also the seat of government, home of the law courts and a prison.
A tour encompasses all of this, from the torture chamber through to the Great Council Halls.
The system of government with its checks and balances on the Doges is fascinating and was put in place to keep the Doges from becoming dictators.
Only a few really tried to overcome this, Marino Faliero is perhaps the most famous of those who tried to change the system and bucking the system was really not a good idea in those days.
You will see that where his picture should be in the Sala del Maggior Consiglio there is only a black space. He was condemned to be erased from living memory and was mutilated and executed.
If you are in Venice at the height of the summer tourist season and the wait to get in is too long (it nearly always is) rather buy what is called a cumulative ticket at the Correr Museum.
This allows you to see the Correr Museum, which has works by most of the leading Venetian artists dating back to the sixteenth century, and it also allows you to visit the Doge’s palace without having to queue up outside again. Simply enter through the side entrance and save a lot of hassle.
If you really want to get the most out of your limited time in Venice join the tour called Skip the Line.
It costs about 25 Euros but you'll discover a wealth of things you'd
never discover on your own. Try to book a few days before you visit.
For some very unique ways to discover Venice click here.
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