lunedì 7 aprile 2014



The building, rectangular in shape, was begun in the in the IX century. It had probably the typical structure for that time: crenellated walls with moats and drawbridges.   There was a tower at each corner. The last remnant may probably be seen at the left of the Porta della Carta. It was renovated in 917 by Doge Pietro Orseolo I.It was extended by Doge Sebastiano Ziani in 1173, who gave the building a Byzantine form appearance with loggias and porticoes.

In subsequent centuries (14th - 16th century) this Byzantine building was replaced by by the superb construction we admire today.The architecture and internal decoration was destroyed many times by fire. In 1483 a huge fire destroyed the side of he palace overlooking the canal.  Other huge fires took place in 1547 and 1577, when many wonderful paintings disappeared. The reconstruction respected the original Gothic style.

The columns of the portico sustain 38 finely carved capitals. The wall above is lightened by pink and white marble bricks set in patterns of rhombi and crosses.

The Porta della Carta frames the main entrance with a decoration of flowers, statues and niches and is the finest example of flamboyant Gothic.

It was the dwelling place of the Doges, the seat of the government and the Court of Justice of the Most SereneRepublic. In the course of the centuries the uses of the various rooms were changed, but the offices remained on the first floor, four great halls for the Government and the doge's private apartment on the second and other rooms for the government use on the third.  


The Porta della Carta

Loggia (detail)


The Doge's Palast seen from the Campanile of San Marco


At the top of the Staircase of the Giants there are the statues of Neptune and Mars, gods of the sea and of war. The statues were carved by J. Sansovino towards the middle of the XVI century.   


The Golden staircase was so-called because of the richness of the gilded stucco ceiling. This frames frescoes and bas-reliefs of male and female figures which symbolize the various virtues. The plan of the staircase was of J. Sansovino.  The stuccos are a work of A. Vittoria (XVI century).

There is a long series of wonderful rooms. We cite the Collegium which was the hall where the highest authorities met: the Doge, the Councillors, the Sages, the Heads of the Council of Ten and the Grand Chancellor. It is a setting which preserves the pomp and majesty with which the Government surrounded itself. It contains a finely carved ceiling and a cycle of paintings by Paolo Veronese.


The Great Council Hall was a vast space enclosed by four walls with neither colums, nor piers to interrupt it. The Great Council met here to nominate Doges, Procurators and Senators. When a prince or an important ambassado arrived on an official visit, it was tranformed into a festive banqueting hall. The reception of Henry III of France was celebrated with the splendour of an oriental feast.  


Very important was the Hall of the Council of Ten. This was the supreme Court of the Republic, formed  by ten persons elected by the Great Council, and it met here.

Questa magistratura nacque in seguito ad un evento particolare: la congiura ordita nel 1310 da Baiamonte Tiepolo con la complicità di altri nobili. La congiura aveva lo scopo di rovesciare le istituzioni statali, ma venne scoperta in tempo, dando modo al doge Pietro Gradenigo di fermare i congiurati che da punti diversi della città stavano per affluire in piazza con l'obiettivo di assaltare il palazzo  Alcuni dei congiurati furono giustiziati, mentre altri furono mandati in esilio.  Per salvaguardare nel futuro la sicurezza dello Stato da altri analoghi tentativi, fu decretata la formazione di una commissione, il cui compito principale consisteva nel proteggere con ogni mezzo le istituzioni. Essa era formata dal Doge, da dieci persone tratte dalle file del Senato, eleggibili annualmente, e dai sei Savi: in tutto diciassette persone. Dato il peso enorme che ben presto rivestì nell'ambito dello Stato, divenne una magistratura permanente e usufruì di numerose prerogative: una polizia segreta, finanze proprie per pagare i "confidenti", la facoltà di indagare su molteplici aspetti, pubblici e privati, di quanti risiedevano a Venezia e la cui attività o le cui frequentazioni potevano rivestire un qualche interesse in relazione alla sicurezza dello Stato.  


The Bridge of Sighs

Over this bridge the prisoners were lead to the prisons (I Piombi).

Riva degli Schiavoni: it is possible to see the Doge's Palace  


The strength of Venice depended above all on its Arsenal's production. In the period of greatest power  (XIII century), the Arsenal built up to one galley a day and provided work for 16.000 men. The building of the Arsenal was begun in the XII century. In this way it was possible to integrate the work of the various shipyards. The Arsenal grew gradually in size until in the XV and XVI century thanks to to the increased commercial activities and war requirements. It came to occupy a vast area partly covered by roofs.   

The Arsenal is still surrounded by walls which are broken  at the entrance canal and the main gate. It was decorated with statues and lions sent by F. Morosini (il Peloponnesiaco) from Athens in the   XVII century. The Portal of the Arsenal is the first Renaissance work in Venice (1460).


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