The Doge's Palace in Venice
The visit of the Doge’s Palace in Venice is a must for your stay in the Serenissima.
The Doge’s Palace was the seat of government of the ancient Republic of Venice, The Palazzo Ducale was the highest expression of the glorious and powerful Serenissima in its artistic splendor and magnificence.
The Palace was the residence of the Doges, the main administrative building, the Public Archives and the Palace of Justice of Venice.
The most decisive events in the history of the thousand-year-old Republic took place within its walls.
You can visit it either on your own with a ticket, or on a guided tour, or on a guided tour coupled with that of the Basilica of San Marco.
Oriane & Angel's opinion
Oriane : A visit to the Doge’s Palace is a must, even if you are only in Venice for a weekend.
Angel : To visit the Doge’s Palace it is best to buy your ticket in advance to avoid the long lines.
Oriane : Anticipation is also necessary if you want to have a visit to the Doge’s Palace with more cultural information with a guided tour in French. Guided tours are often fully booked several days in advance.
Angel : There is also the possibility to cleverly combine the guided tour of the Doge’s Palace with the guided tour of St. Mark’s Basilica, this is probably one of the best solutions for those who want to learn more with a professional guide.
Summary of our Guide to visit the Doge's Palace
Click on the link to go directly to this part of the page, you can go back here with a button at the end of the game
- Practical information
- History of the Doge’s Palace
- Buy your Ticket or Guided Tour of the Doge’s Palace
- The inner courtyard of the Doge’s Palace
- Scala d’Oro – the Golden Staircase
- The Grand Council Chamber
- All other rooms with pictures
- The Bridge of Sighs
- The Prisons
- The Staircase of the Giants
- The Armory
- La Porta della Carta
- The Facades
- The Secret Routes
Practical information to visit the Doge's Palace
Visit the Doge's Palace
The History of the Doge's Palace
The very first Doge’s Palace was in Rialto
The first building of the Doge’s government was first at the Rialto, then the seat of government was transferred by the Partecipazios in the early ninth century, to the place where it remained thereafter, perhaps based first on pre-existing Roman buildings.
Almost nothing remains of this first version of the Palazzo Ducale, which must have been fortified, one of its towers is usually identified in the square building of the basilica of St. Mark, where the treasury is currently located.
Several fires destroyed the Doge’s Palace
This version of the Doge’s Palace, in its current location, was destroyed by fire along with the basilica in 976 during a rebellion against the Doge Candiano IV. The palace was restored by Pietro Orseolo.
In 1106 a new fire damaged the palace, which was rebuilt and was admired by Emperor Henry V during his reception in 1116.
Other fires took place: 1483, 1574, 1577,…
Where to buy a ticket to visit the Doge's Palace?
Ticket for the Doge's Palace
Adult = €33, Others (Senior, student, youth) = €17,50
1) Click on the Reservation button then
2) Choose the number of Adults (15 years old to 64 years old), Senior (over 64 years old) Youth (6 to 14 years old) , students with proof (15ans to 25 years old)
3) Click on a DATE.
4) then add to cart, pay, receive your tickets by email, free cancellation
If you prefer a visit to the Doge's Palace with explanations by a professional French guide
If you want to visit the Doge's Palace with real cultural explanations by a professional French guide
To buy it is simple:
1) Choose the day and time of your visit to the Doge's Palace (usually not too early, rather in the late morning)
2) Choose the visit in English or your language with the discounts you have (Youth from 6 to 14 years old discount of 13 euros, under 6 years old free)
3) Pay and receive your tickets by email with all the instructions
If you wish to visit during your stay in Venice both the Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Basilica with a professional French guide to make the most of your visits culturally.
If you want to visit both the Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Basilica with its paying parts and the terrace, with a French guide.
The purchase is also simple for the most beautiful visit:
1) Select the participants and take advantage of the significant discounts for those under 15 years old, and free for those under 6 years old.
2) Select the desired date.
3) Select the language of your Professional Guide.
4) Select Group up to 20 people 3h (rather than Private Group which is much more expensive).
5) Choose your departure time from those still available
6) Add to cart, pay and receive your tickets and instructions
The courtyard of the Doge's Palace
The inner courtyard of the Doge’s Palace is imposing and magnificent, it is the first step of your visit to the Plazzo Ducale. At the back you will see the famous Staircase of the Giants, the only staircase that remains today, because few know that there were two others that gave access to the loggias. In the center there are two beautiful bronze wells richly decorated, made by Alfonso Alberghetti and Niccolo dei Conti in 1559. All around the courtyard there are porticoes, typical of Venetian architecture. The porticoes and the loggias give the architecture of the palace that extraordinary characteristic lightness.
The courtyard is closed at the front by a fourth side, to the north, where the Doge’s Palace adjoins the Basilica of San Marco, which was the chapel of the Doge. The small marble facade on which the clock is located dates from a renovation made from 1603 to 1614 by Bartolomeo Monopola, son of Alessandro and Pietro Cittadella, and displays 6 statues coming from Greece, gifts of the Procurator Federico Contarin, among which at the bottom left Marcus Aurelius, and above Cicero and Abundance.
Then you continue your visit through the Censors’ staircase, to go up to the second floor along the Renaissance wing, where there are some “bocce di leone”, (mouths of denunciation), in which it was possible, from the end of the XVI century, to denounce crimes and embezzlement in an anonymous way.
The Golden Staircase
The Scala d’oro, Golden Staircase, stands in the middle of the eastern loggia, and its entrance is decorated by two statues by Tiziano Aspetti (mid-sixteenth century): Hercules striking down the Hydra, and Atlas holding up the world. The famous staircase was created in 1538 under the Doge Andrea Gritti, then modified by Jacopo Sansovino in 1555 and finished by Scarpagnino in 1559. The gilding that gave the name “Sacala d’Oro” to the staircase was made by Alessandro Vittoria, and the frescoes by Battista Franco (restored in 1793 by A. Novelli).
It was the ceremonial staircase that led to the apartments of the Doge.
The Grand Council Chamber / Sala del Maggior Consiglio
It is the largest room in the Palazzo Ducale with its 53 meters in length and 25 meters in width, 10 meters high, it is the hall of the Grand Council of Venice. It was also called Sala dei Pregadi because the nobles were once pregati (invited, or co-opted) by the doge to become members of the senate. In 1319, the possibility of electing new members to the council was abolished in favor of a hereditary right.
The council hall was imagined in the gigantic size you will see, as early as 1340. Its construction and decoration will last dozens of years, and the first assembly in this majestic room will take place on July 30, 1419.
After the fire of 1577, the architect Antonio de Ponte imagined the new room in the same proportions, and entrusted the realization to Jacopo Tintoretto, known as the Tintoretto and his students. Immediately below the ceiling runs a frieze with the portraits of the first seventy-six doges of Venetian history (the others are in the examination room), with their great deeds in cartouche. Every Sunday, the “Sala del maggior consiglio” could gather up to 2000 people, the “nobles” of Venice, to the sound of the bell of San Marco. It was in this room that the election of the Doge began before ending in the voting room, which is just after your visit.
On an entire wall, behind the throne, is the largest canvas in the world, 22 meters by 7 meters, Paradise, painted between 1588 and 1592 by Jacopo Tintoretto, and his workshop, in place of the fresco of Guariento.
The other rooms (click if you want to see the whole list, click again to close the list)
During your visit you will admire:
- Doge’s Apartment
- Sala degli Scarlatti with its carved ceiling and a Madonna and Child by Titian. The room, once used as an antechamber for the Doge’s advisors, may have been named for the color of their togas. The carved ceiling is preserved, probably designed and executed by Biagio and Pietro da Faenza, on which is the coat of arms of the Doge Andrea Gritti (doge from 1523 to 1538)
- Sala dello Scudo
- Sala Grimani : The carved ceiling of this room dates back to the Barbarigo doges (1485/1501), but the coat of arms applied in the center at the end of the 16th century is that of the Grimani family, which gave three doges to the Republic.
- Sala Erizzo
- Sala degli Stucchi o Priuli
- Sala dei Filosofi : the room is named after twelve images of ancient philosophers that were placed there in the 18th century, later replaced by
allegories and portraits of doges.
- Sala Corner
- Sala dei Ritratti
- Sala degli Scudieri
- Salles institutionnelles
- Liagò : In Venetian dialect, “liagò” means veranda or terrace closed by glass windows. This room was used as a promenade and meeting place for the patricians between the frequent sessions of the Maggior Consiglio.
- Sala della Quarantia Civil Vecchia
- Sala del Guariento
- Sala del Maggior Consiglio
- Sala dello Scrutinio, which in ancient times was called the Library, because it contained precious manuscripts left by Petrarch and Bessarion. Then it was in this room that the electoral counting operations took place. The walls tell the story of the battles won from 809 to 1656: The battle of
Lepanto by Andrea Vicentino, 1571; the Victory of the Venetians over the Turks in the Dardanelles by Pietro Liberi, painted between 1660 and 1665, the Victory of the Venetians over the Turks in Albania by Pietro Bellotti, 1663; the conquest of Tyre by Antonio Aliense, 1590; the naval victory of the Venetians in Jaffa against the Egyptians by Sante Peranda, 1605.
- Sala della Quarantia Criminale : room dedicated to the administration of justice, the room is decorated with wooden stalls dating from the 17th century.
- Sala dei Cuoi
- Sala del Magistrato alle Leggi
- Sala del Consiglio dei Dieci
- Sala della Bussola : It is in this room that the series of spaces dedicated to the functions of Justice begins, it is the anteroom for those who have been summoned by the magistrate. The statue of Justice surmounts the large wooden compass that gives its name to the room.
- Sala del Senato
- Sala dell’Anticollegio
- Sala del Collegio
In all the rooms works of Tintoretto, Veronese, Zelotti, Tiepolo… So many great artists of the XVIth and XVIIth centuries to admire…
The Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs by Antonio Contin connects since 1614 the Palazzo Ducale and the magistrates’ offices to the New Prisons (Prigioni Nuove) over a canal through two corridors. Its name comes from the sighs of the prisoners, which has been transformed with tourism and the disappearance of the operation of prisons for a long time, into sighs of the lovers of Venice. The two corridors are also connected to the service staircase that goes from the Wells (pozzi) to the Piombi.
The new prisons can be visited with a guided tour, where you will see the graffiti of the prisoners in the dungeons, the wet wells (pozzi), while the ancient prisons “piombi” that are under the roofs of the Palazzo Ducale, and where Casanova was imprisoned are visitable only with the secret itinerary of the Doge’s Palace.
Staircase of the Giants
To contemplate the Staircase of the Giants is to contemplate a perfect example of the Renaissance in Venice. Of inestimable artistic value, Scala dei Giganti played a fundamental role in the political life of the Republic. The Staircase of the Giants was built by Antonio Rizzo after a decision of the Maggior Consiglio of the Serenissima in 1484.
It was at the top of the Staircase of the Giants that the new Doge of Venice received the Zoia (or Doge’s horn), the headgear that he always had to wear, and that, visible to all, he pronounced during the coronation ceremony, his oath of absolute fidelity to the Republic of Venice (il promissio ducis).
To make this political place more solemn, two statues by Jacopo Sansovino, representing Mars, god of war and earth, and Neptune, god of the sea, were placed in this place in 1566. With these giant statues, the staircase took the name of Staircase of the Giants.
All the steps of the staircase are decorated according to a very old technique, coming from Egypt.
The visit to the armory of the Doge’s Palace is interesting because you can admire a splendid collection of armor from the Middle Ages that were used in battles or tournaments of the time, including the armor of King Henry V of France. You will also discover weapons that were used by the guards of the Palazzo Ducale to defend the Doge and rare weapons such as Ottoman halberds, swords with built-in firearms.
Porta della carta
The Porta della Carta, which is located on the piazetta next to the Basilica of San Marco, was so called because scribes (public writers) used to have their shops here and write petitions and legal documents for the illiterate. This door of the Doge’s Palace is full of rich decorations and, originally, the door was even called the golden door because the statues and ornaments were covered with gold.
This Door of the Papers, Porta della Carta, was made by the family of stonemasons BON, father and son Bartolomeo from 1439 to 1432. Here you will find the statue of Justice with a sword and scales, dominating the four statues of the Virtues: Temperance, Strength of Soul, (made by the Tuscan Pietro LAMBERTI), Prudence, Charity, (made by Antonio BREGNO). The Doge Francesco FOSCARI, kneeling before the Lion of St. Mark, is under the triple-arched window on the second floor. When Napoleon’s army entered Venice in 1797, this statue was destroyed because it was too much of a reminder of the lagoon city’s splendor and thousand-year-old history. The one you will see is a reproduction of 1885 by L. FERRARI.
The Doge’s Palace, like all the buildings in Venice, was built on a forest of larch or oak poles (pali) 2 to 4 meters high and 20 centimeters in diameter, at a rate of 10 poles per square meter, and stone from Istria.
The Palazzo Ducale is in the Venetian Gothic style and you can admire the inversion of the masses: the lower parts are very airy, open, light, with the porticos and then above the loggias open onto the lagoon or the piazzetta, and above are the solid parts.
The first floor consists of a portico of 36 columns, whose sculpted capitals support the arches. Above, the gothic loggia gives rhythm to the facade by multiplying the columns and the arches, an arch on the ground floor gives two arches on the floor above, and two columns give 3 columns, like the beginning of the Fibonacci sequence.
Then there is a kind of key, a flower with 4 petals, typical of the Doges’ Palace.
The south and west sides of the palace have three floors, while the east side has four, creating .
On both facades there are large balconies with groups of sculptures. If you look at the upper floor of the facade towards the pier, you will notice two windows with three arches, called triforiums, which are the oldest part.
The external facades are two-tone, covered with white Istrian stone and pink Verona marble, in a play of shadows, lights and colors that distill the reflections of the lagoon.
At the very top, airy shapes that resemble small bell towers stand out against the sky, playing, like the whole building, with light.
The secret itineraries of the Doge’s Palace allow you to visit the piombi, the torture rooms, the judges’ offices, and many other secret places of the Doge’s Palace.