Charm, mystery and history
The Doge’s Palace tour is an extraordinary masterpiece of Gothic art in the heart of St. Mark’s Square. It consists of three bodies that have previous constructions: the wing towards the Basin of St. Mark’s (with the Hall of Great Council) is the oldest and its restoration was in 1340; the wing towards St. Mark’s Square (Palace of Justice) with the Hall of Scrutiny, whose construction dates back to 1424 and the Renaissance wing with the Doge’s residence and many other government offices, was rebuilt between in 1483 and 1565.
Porta del Frumento (towards the lagoon) is the main entrance to the public, was called so because near there was the Fodder Office (dedicated to the licensing of transport grain “fodder”). On the ground floor there are facilities to the public, the Opera Museum and the old kitchens of the Doge (today roadhouse).
Upstairs there are the upper rooms of the Doge’s Palace tour and is accessed through a beautiful courtyard to visit the floor of the Loggia, the Doge’s rooms are on the first floor and the Institutional Chambers placed between the second floor and the floor the Loggia for visiting the Armory of Prisons.
Justice and Detention at the Doge’s Palace tour
The Secret Itineraries, are some of the rooms where for centuries the Republic of Venice he carried out State administration. From the beautiful courtyard embellished by marble decorations, through a very narrow door leads down to the ground floor to enter the “Pozzi” where are the horrible prisons consisting of small, narrow and moist cells partially lit by oil lamps and airy through round holes formed in the thick walls stone and equipped with doors locked by large chains. Through a small staircase leads to two small rooms used by the Notary Ducal and the Deputy to the Secret of the Council of Ten, then access the Office of the Great Chancellor (today General Archive). From here a staircase gives access to the room of the Secret Chancellery with walls covered with wood cabinets for the storage of public documents and secret writing of the Venetian magistracy. Through the room of the Regent of the Chancellery, you enter the room of Torture and Piombi (prisons located in the basement). According to the testimony of Giacomo Casanova who was detained, the conditions for prisoners at Piombi were far better than those of inmates at the “Pozzi”. From this area leads to the attic where there are exhibited numerous Venetian, Ottoman and five hundred weapons. From the attic leads to the Hall of the Inquisitors with the ceiling decorated with ornaments made by Tintoretto between 1566 and 1567. After visiting the Hall of Tre Capi with ceiling decorations made between 1553 and 1554 by Giambattista Zelotti (central octagon with the Victory of Virtue over Vice) and Paolo Veronese and Giambattista Ponchino for lateral divisions. A secret passage is housed in a wooden cabinet in the Room of Tre Capi by which you could get to the Hall of the Council of Ten.
The Last Sigh
The famous Bridge of Sighs was built in 1614 to link the Doge Palace (former prisons “Piombi and Pozzi”) to the new prisons (white building next to the Doges Palace) was intended to improve the living conditions of prisoners by means of larger, light and air cells. The name comes from the sigh of the prisoner that on leaving the Court went beyond the bridge and saw the last ray of sun through the small windows before being detained for many years and be able to regain freedom.
There are many treasures that the Palace encloses: the Doge’s precious, sculptures, marble decorations, frescoes and rooms that have long surrounded the power of the Republic of Venice that for many years was was the undisputed queen of the Mediterranean.