Photo of The Doge's Palace, Venice

Visit The Doge's Palace, Venice

The Doge's Palace in Venice is a stunning building located on the iconic Saint Marks Square and is one of the key attractions of Venice.

Explore the Doge's Palace

Italy this Way review: Definitely worth a visit for a view of the wonderful Gothic and Renaissance courtyard, the lavishly painted Chambers and the inside of the Bridge of Sighs.

Courtyard of the Doge's Palace in Venice

The Doge's Palace has its origins in the 9th century when the Venetian government was moved from the island of Malamocco to the Rialto area of Venice and it was decided to build a ducal palace.

Nothing remains of this first palace and following a fire reconstruction was undertaken by Doge Sebastiano Ziani who changed the layout of the whole of Saint Mark's Square.

The new palace had a wing over Saint Mark's Basin and a wing over the Piazzetta. Little remains of these original buildings.

In the 13th century the Great Council grew in size and it became necessary for changes to be made to the palace. The current structure was begun in 1340 and concentrated on the wing overlooking the Basin. The building was Gothic in style.

In 1483 work began on the wing overlooking the Piazzetta and included the ground floor arcade and open loggias on the first floor. The internal courtyard and Porto della Carta were also completed.

In 1483 a fire severly damaged the section of the palace overlooking the canal and comprising the Doges' appartments and further reconstruction was necessary. This time a Renaissance style of architecture was introduced.

In 1547 another fire destroyed various rooms including the Chamber of the Great Council. Rebuilding remained in the original Gothic style but some classical features were added including the 'Bridge of Sighs' which links the palace to the prison.

For a long time both a ducal palace and a seat of government the role changed as Venice was subjected to French and then Austrian rule and then in 1866 became part of Italy.

At the end of the 19th century the palace was in need of major restoration and most public offices were moved elsewhere and the palace eventually became a museum.


A visit to the Doge's Palace begins at the Porta del Frumenta next to the waterside.

You first enter the courtyard flanked by the Renaissance wing on the right and the Piazzetta wing on the left. From the courtyard you have some excellent views over parts of the Basilica .

The Giant's Staircase with its statues of Mars and Neptune on either side leads up to the entrance to the palace.

On the opposite end of the Renaissance wing the Censor's Staircase leads up to the Gold staircase, la Scala d'Oro, and up to the upper floors which were used for government purposes. Much of the decorations in these rooms is 16th century and includes paintings by Tintoretto, Titian and Veronese.

The rooms on the visit include the Four Doors Room, the Sala delle Quattro Porte, the Council Chamber, Sala del Collegio, the Senate Chamber, Sala del Sanato and the Chamber of Council of Tens , the Sala del Consiglio dei Die.

Then you will arrive in the huge Chamber of the Great Council, the Sala del Maggior Consiglio. This room is 53 meters long and 25 meters wide and is one of the largest rooms in Europe!

Here Great Council meetings were held . The walls of the Great Council are decorated with scenes of Venetian history painted by Veronese, Tintoretto and Jacopo.

A frieze around the top of the walls contains paintings of the first 76 doges painted by the son of Tintoretto. Doge Marino Faliero who attempted a coup d'etat in 1355 is represented by a black cloth to indicate his status as a traitor to the Republic.

On the long wall behind the Doge's throne is the painting 'Il Paradiso' by Tintoretto and his workshop. This is the longest canvas painting in the world.

Across the Rio di Palazzo canal from the Doge's Palace is the prison, and prisoners were led from one to the other through a corridor over the Bridge of Sighs, the Ponte dei Sospori.

The bridge was apparently named because of the sighs of prisoners who saw their last view of freedom as they saw the Venice lagoon from the small window of the Bridge of Sighs.

The Doge's Palace is open to visitors every day.

Chamber of the Great Council in the Doge's Palace

Attractions nearby

Venice is a fabulous city and an attraction in itself. The main attractions as well as the Doge's Palace are the Grand Canal, Saint Mark's Square, Saint Mark's Basilica and bell-tower and the Rialto Bridge.

If you have time visit the Scala Contarini del Bovolo spiral staircase.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Venice guide, and the Venice-Veneto guide.

See also: 

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Map of The Doge's Palace, Venice and places to visit


The Doge's Palace, Venice places to visit

The National Archaeological Museum, Venice

The National Archaeological Museum, Venice

The Venice National Archaeological Museum has an interesting collection of Roman and Greek statues and many items donated by rich Venetian families.

The National Archaeological Museum, Venice guide
Saint Mark's Basilica, Venice

Saint Mark's Basilica, Venice

Saint Mark's Basilica is the stunning cathedral church of Venice which sits on Saint Mark's Square and inside houses magnificent Byzantine mosaics.

Saint Mark's Basilica, Venice guide
Saint Mark's Campanile, Venice

Saint Mark's Campanile, Venice

Saint Mark's Campanile is one of the iconic buildings of Saint Mark's Square and a visit to the top offers great views over Venice.

Saint Mark's Campanile, Venice guide
Museo Correr, Venice

Museo Correr, Venice

The Museo Correr has a collection of sculptures and items related to Venice housed in the sumptuous rooms of the Napoleonic wing on Saint Mark's Square.

Museo Correr, Venice guide
Scala Contarini del Bovolo, Venice

Scala Contarini del Bovolo, Venice

Scala Contarini del Bovolo is a 15th century palace in the renaissance style and with a spiral staircase, in the San Marco district of Venice

Scala Contarini del Bovolo, Venice guide
The Rialto Bridge, Venice

The Rialto Bridge, Venice

The Rialto bridge is one of the iconic sights of Venice

The Rialto Bridge, Venice guide

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