More than six hundred years of history, one of the most famous (and shortest) bridges in the world, an incredible library and Dungeons & Dragons – style secret passages: all of this is Palazzo Ducale, the Doge’s Palace: one of Venice top attractions.
Venice top attractions: a rebuilt one…
Safety wasn’t so easy to manage in the Middle Ages, so the first Doge’s Palace, built in the IX Century, was destroyed by a fire in X Century.
The “second version”, the rebuilding by the Doge (Duke of Venice) Sebastiano Ziani in 1172 – 1178 is almost completely lost as well: this time for good, but: in XIV Century the power of Venice is growing, and the political establishment went for a new, more ambitious design for the Palazzo Ducale.
The construction of the “new” palace, in Gothic style, started around 1340.
In 1424 the Doge Francesco Foscari started to re-think the Palazzo in the context of the “piazzetta”, the square that will become one of the most famous in the world: piazza San Marco.
The troubles for Palazzo Ducale were not finished yet: more fires – in 1483, 1547 and 1577 – partially destroyed the Doge’s seat. The rebuilding (again!) maintained the Gothic style.
In 1923 Palazzo Ducale became a museum and – despite the fires… – is still one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
The hidden secrets of Palazzo Ducale
As a seat of the power of Venice Palazzo Ducale has some very special “features”: secret passages are now available for the visitors to sneak in (the Secret Itineraries Tour), and the palace is directly connected to the prisons.
That “connection” has become one of the most beloved spots of the Palazzo: Ponte de’ Sospiri (the Bridge of Sighs) built in 1600 by Antonio Contino (architecture runs in the family: Antonio’s uncle, Antonio da Ponte, designed the Rialto Bridge).