Heavy gondola traffic at the Grand Canal in Venice in Italy

 Encounter with Mars, Neptune
Casanova and Tintoretto in Venice

Venice/Italy (2013). – A  friend of mine returned from a short vacation in Italy where
he also visited the beautiful Venice for the first time. Talking about his experience,
I asked him: “Did you also visit the “Doge’s Palace” (Palazzo Ducale)?”
A question every first time visitor of Venice answers with “Of course”,
especially since the palace is not only one of the main landmarks of the city but,
built in Venetian Gothic style, the palace also works like magnet, attracting all tourists and
visitors to its location at San Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco).
Every year more than a million people from all over the world visit the
residence of the former ruler of the Republic of Venice, the doges.
The inside view of the Doge's palace in Venice in Italy
My friend’s answer was no, he didn’t visit the palazzo. And he explained why: “You should have seen the lines at the ticket counter to get in. I didn’t want to waste my time lining up.” The quote “Great things come to patient people” came to mind when listening to his frustration, every visitor of any tourist attraction in the world already has experienced at least once. I thought about what he missed out of, not seeing one of the most beautiful sights in Venice: the incredibly beautiful courtyard, the grand staircase, the many “Chambers”, the Doge’s residence and the government offices, the bridge of sighs, the old and new prison in which also the famous Giacomo Casanova was held captive and the huge Tintoretto painting “Paradise” on the back wall of the “Council Chamber”, reputedly the world’s largest oil painting on canvas, to only name a few. ​

While it is literally impossible to miss the “Doge’s Palace” at San Mark’s Square when strolling around in the lagoon city, not everyone gets to go inside to explore and enjoy its “inner beauty”. I had the great pleasure to actually get inside the great palace and I’ve snapped some photos for my impatient friend and for my web site. This way everyone can have a little taste of what the “Doge’s Palace” can offer its visitors and then decide for themselves at the next Venice visit if lining up for the entree will be worth it. By the way, as a photographer I was amazed by the beauty of the building and I was fascinated by the interesting facts I’ve learned about the palace and about the life in Venice during the time when “La Serenissima” – traditional name for Venice (the most serene Republic of Venice) ,was a republic and ruled by the doges.

The Giant’s staircase (Scala dei Giganti) 
The ceremonial staircase inside the courtyard dates back to 1485, the year when the doges decided to have a huge staircase built within the courtyard of their palace. On top of the Giant’s staircase two colossal statues portraying Mars and Neptune who represent Venice’s power by land and by sea at this time. These sculptures also gave the staircase its name, “Scala dei Giganti”, the Giants staircase.

The Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri)/The prison
The Bridge of Sighs, built in 1602 and made of white limestone and with windows with stone bars, connects the new prison with the palace. It passes over the “Rio di Palazzo”. Walking from the interrogation room to their prison cells, inmates had to cross the “Rio di Palazzo” with walking the Bridge of Sighs. Right in the middle of the bridge they had their final view of Venice before their imprisonment started. Lord Byron gave the bridge its name in the 19th century. He was convinced that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells. A local legend says that lovers will be granted eternal love if they kiss on a gondola at sunset under the Bridge Of Sighs as the bells of St Mark’s Campanile would ring. The palace prison of the doge’s had a very famous inmate and with it not a very glorious story: Giacomo Casanova was accused of a long series of crimes and without trial sentenced to five years in prison. His fantastic escape from the old prison under the roof of the palace is as legendary as his life was in general.

Tintoretto’s “Paradise”
In one of the institutional chambers, the “Council Chamber” (Sala del Maggior Consiglio), visitors of the “Doge’s Palace” can enjoy on the back wall of the room the incredible art of the Venetian painter Tintoretto, who painted as an assignment for the rulers of Venice the “Paradise”, in size 22.6 times 9.1 meters (74 ft. by 30 ft), reputed the largest painting ever done upon canvas. The “Council Chamber” is an extremely large hall where the many members of the Council met in the 16th century. The “Maggior Consiglio” decided all legislative issues relating to the city.

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