A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the Palazzo Ducale is a great layering structure of constructive and ornamental elements: from fourteenth ancient foundations to sizeable Renaissance. It consists of three main bodies that incorporate previous constructions: the wing to the St. Mark’s Basin, the oldest, which contains the Hall of Great Council, the wing towards the Square, formerly Justice Palace, the Hall of Poll, and the Renaissance wing with the residence of the doge and many government offices. The courtyard leads to the four wings. The first plan, called the Loggia, allowing a walk along the three wings east, south and west of the palace, with beautiful views over the courtyard and the Piazzetta San Marco.
This floor houses the Office for the Environmental and Architectural Heritage of Venice and some offices of the Directorate of Museums in Venice. From here we proceed through the Renaissance wing to the Golden Staircase. The apartments of the Doge, the Institutional rooms, where they held the political and administrative life of the republic. Here are the salt of the principal organs of the Government of the Republic of Venice: the Grand Council, the Senate, the College, and the most important magistrates of Justice, the Council of Ten to forty.
In all rooms the decorative program is always deeply consistent with the celebration of the virtues of the State and the functions it performs. From the second half of the sixteenth century, it was decided to construct a new building across the Rio di Palazzo fully intended to work as a prison, with rooms to use by judges of the Criminal night. The construction of these new prisons had the intention to improve the living conditions of prisoners with larger cells .We continue with the two lower floors and the courtyard of the prison, where it has been set up a route that shows a collection of pottery from excavations in the area. This trail then connects to the bridge of Sighs and the Hall of Censors.
The Bridge of Sighs was built in 1614 to join the Doge’s Palace to the building adjacent to the new prisons; closed and covered it consists of two corridors separated by a wall. One connects to the Halls of Prisons, to the Judge Laws, to the Criminal and to the Forty on the main floor of the Palazzo Ducale, the other connects the Prisons with the salt of Avogaria and the Parlatory. Both corridors are linked to the “service stairs” that from the Pozzi brings to the Leads.
The famous Ponte dei Sospiri which nickname dates back to romantic period and refers to the sigh of the prisoners, leaving the court building to cross the bridge to reach the cell in which he will serve the penalty, seeing through the small windows, freedom. At the end the rooms of weapons today are a valuable museum of weapons and ammunition.
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