The Palazzo Ducale is spread over three wings around the sides of a large central portico courtyard, whose fourth side is made up of the lateral body of the Marciana basilica, an ancient palatine chapel. The whole building rests, as in the case of any other Venetian building, on a raft made up of larch trunks, which in turn holds an important base in Istrian stone. The main façades, facing Piazza San Marco and towards the San Marco basin, they have rather similar dimensions, since the one facing the pier is 71.5 meters long and developed on 17 arches, while the one on the square, longer than an arch, measures 75 meters. The third façade overlooks the canal known as the Rio di Palazzo, crossed by the Bridge of Sighs and flows into the sea at the Ponte della Paglia bridge.
The two main facades of the palace, in Venetian-Gothic style, facing the square and the pier, are built on two colonnaded levels dominated by a massive inlaid marble body with large ogival windows, with a monumental central balcony. its richly decorated, and a crowning of small cusps and angular edicolette, replacing the traditional cornice: overall, the structure presents in the decoration a clear reference to oriental architectural stylesand, to a lesser extent, Germanic, derived largely from the high number of cultural and commercial contacts between the Venetians and other Mediterranean and European peoples and the consequent importation of materials from those lands. Between the two levels of the loggia and the overlying wall there is a continuous cornice, which divides the façade into two sections of equal height. The airy loggiati with columns and pointed arches pierced with quadrilobi, bordered by balustradesand not based on the traditional model because slightly bent, they are supported by the portico on the ground floor, which has half of the openings and is decorated with finely sculpted capitals. As a result of the lowered aspect of the arches of the ground floor, someone added that the ground level had been raised; however, this is erroneous, as demonstrated by the analyzes carried out by Angelo Zendrini and Giannantonio Selva, which have made it possible to understand how this rising, yes, was a few centimeters.
In the book Meu sosia e eu Oscar Niemeyer dedicates a section to his critical vision of these colonnades, which he describes as “beautiful”. Niemeyer, entertaining a Socratic dialogue with a hypothetical rationalist architect, affirms that if the columns, far from its rationalist taste, were made in simpler and more functional forms, they would not create with their curves the so exquisite contrast that they now establish with the ample wall. smooth that support. In the book Niemeyer par lui-mêmeNiemeyer states that the Palazzo Ducale is a monument of extreme importance in the history of architecture and that its importance lies not only in elegance, but also in the correct use of materials. Niemeyer also criticized Andrea Palladio, stating that his theory that during the renovation of Palazzo Ducale, what is heavier should have stayed low and what is lighter on top would not have been appropriate. In this sense Niemeyer compares Palazzo Ducale with modern buildings, being ruled like these on columns.
Facade towards the pier
Bridge of Sighs and the New Prisons
In the oldest part, facing the pier, there are fourteenth-century capitals, while the angular sculptures are attributed to Filippo Calendario or to Lombard artists such as Raverti or Bregno: on the corner between the façade overlooking the sea and the façade on the river of Palazzo there are two reliefs representing the one, the one above, the Archangel Raphael in the act of blessing and Tobiolo, the other, below, above the Ponte della Paglia, the biblical episode of Noah’s Excitement: on the corner is set the trunk of the vineyard, which divides the scene into two parts. Towards the sea there is the figure of Elder Noah, naked and staggering, while towards the canal there are the two sons, one of which covers the nudity of his father with a cloth. At the opposite end, towards the Piazzetta, stands the Archangel Michael with the unsheathed sword at the top, while at the bottom are depicted in rigid frontal position Adam and Eve, separated by a pint of fig on which it wraps the serpent with the face of Satan. Eve holds the fruit of sin, which indicates with the other hand.
At the center of the façade there is the central balcony of the Sala del Maggior Consiglio, the work of the Jacobello brothers and Pierpaolo dalle Masegne, built between 1400 and 1404. Surrounded by two important octagonal piers, interrupted by niches and culminating in pyramids, it is vertically divided into two sections of equal height development: one is constituted by the opening, the other by the decorative structure above; the real arch of the window is supported by four small columns in green and greek marble; the balcony is divided into six sections each decorated with four panels; along the piers there are six statues, the lower ones representing San Teodoro and San Giorgio (the latter by Giovanni Battista Pellegrini ), the upper ones the Temperance, Justice, Fortress and Prudence; above the real arch there is a walled oculus (containing a simulacrum of Charity ), flanked by the statues of Faith and Hope; from the inscription and from the shields it is deduced that the work was realized under Michele Sten. Above the oculus, placed on oneshelf, there is a lion marciano; above it, inside the niches, are the statues of San Marco, San Pietro and San Paolo; the crowning was rebuilt in 1579 with the placement of the Justice of Alessandro Vittoria.
The balcony at the center of the superior order, with the Lion of San Marco, dates back to the period between 1531 and 1538 (according to some sources, in 1536 ); It was designed by Sansovino, offering a series of references to the oldest one on the other front: regarding the attribution of ancient sources, the author of this work was sought in the Lombards, but the main representatives of this school at that time were already dead and the protomastro of the then Republic was just the Sansovino, whose shop seems to be attributable to the style of the balcony. On the sides of this structure two niches with statues of Mars developand Neptune, surmounted by two Fame with torch; also the upper panel, containing a copy of the sculptural group with the Doge Andrea Gritti and the Lion of San Marco, destroyed during the French occupation in 1797 and redone in the nineteenth century, is framed by statues, the one depicting Mercury and the other Jupiter. Di Alessandro Vittoria is the statue of Venice, placed at the height of the decoration.
Port of the Card
The monumental entrance of the building, located between it and the basilica, probably owes its name to the custom of posting the new laws and decrees or the presence on the site of public scribes or the fact that there were near the archives of state documents.
The sculptural and decorative apparatus, originally painted and gilded, is very rich. In the two lateral pinnacles there are two figures of cardinal Virtues on each side and at the crown of the whole structure there is a bust of the Evangelist dominated by the figure of Justice with sword and scales. Central to the apparatus is the representation of the doge Francesco Foscari kneeling in front of the lion marciano: it is a nineteenth-century reconstruction, the work of Luigi Ferrari, replacing the original destroyed by the French in 1797.
It was built in the Gothic style flourished by Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bono as it appears from the inscription on the architrave: OPVS BARTHOLOMEI (work by Bartolomeo). Art historians have asked themselves, however, what was the actual contribution of the Bono in the Porta della Carta; in fact they sometimes appear officially as performers even when they actually commissioned the design and execution of some works to other artists. Through stylistic analysis and comparisons, the critics have therefore tried to go back to the real architects of the monumental Venetian portal. According to some, they are attributed to Antonio Bregnothe statues of the virtues placed on the pilieri. The documents also attest that the Bono took Giorgio da Sebenico as a collaborator; this fact has led to timely comparison between the characteristics of the statues of the Porta della Carta and those of other sculptures by the Dalmatian artist. On the basis of these studies, which have shown overwhelming similarities, the statues of Fortress and Temperance (those placed below on the pilieri) and other sculptures of the door have been attributed to Giorgio da Sebenico. [annotation 2]Other scholars conclude that the role of Giorgio da Sebenico in the Porta della Carta was even more consistent and that the Bono entrusted the part of his design to the Dalmatian too; according to their studies in the Dalmatian the Arco Foscari should also be attributed, also to the Palazzo Ducale..
Going beyond the Porta della Carta, you will cross the Foscari Portico, also begun by the Bono family but completed by Antonio Bregno, a short corridor that ends with the Arco Foscari and leads to the internal courtyard, dominated by the Scala dei Giganti.
Facade towards the Rio di Palazzo
The most recent of the complex is finally the east wing, which overlooks the Rio di Palazzo, built by Antonio Rizzo following the fire of 1483 in completely Renaissance forms. Its dating is permitted, similarly to the facade towards the courtyard, by the presence of the coat of arms of the doge then the government, Giovanni Mocenigo, in power from 1478 to 1485; more precisely, its construction continued until 1560 under the direction of Antonio Abbondi. Along this front the decorative apparatus is much more bare: the statues representing the Noah ‘s Ebrezza and the group of Raffaele and Tobiolo make a corner for you.; the only sculpture entirely placed on this front is that of the so-called third son of Noah.
The visitors’ entrance takes place today from the Porta del Frumento, which owes its name to the fact that in the past, in its vicinity, it found the Office of Biade, which opens at the center of the fourteenth-century south wing facing the San Marco basin. Going through the entrance corridor you reach the courtyard, completely surrounded by arcades surmounted by loggias, re-proposing the external layout of the building. The facades on the courtyard were built during the slat of Marco Barbarigo and Agostino Barbarigo, that is between 1485 and 1501: the date is so precise as there are the coats of arms of the doges that then reigned. While the two internal southern and western brick facades retain the characteristic Venetian gothic appearance of the corresponding external facades, the eastern facade of the courtyard, towards which leads the monumental staircase, is characterized by a marble decoration in Renaissance style, designed by architect Antonio Rizzo, following the radical reconstruction of the wing following the furious fire of 1483. It is structured on four orders: the first with orthogonal pillars supporting round arches, the second with beams of columns and pointed arches, while the upper floors are decorated with a dense relief decoration with Renaissance motifs, very refined, realized at the end of the fifteenth centuryPietro Lombardo together with his sons Antonio and Tullio.
The fourth side of the courtyard, to the north, borders the Basilica of San Marco and is occupied by the Foscari Portico. It ends with the majestic Arco Foscari, a round arch made of white Istrian stone and red Verona marble in the second half of the fifteenth century, while on its southern façade is the small clock face, built in the seventeenth century. by Bartolomeo Manopola and adorned with ancient Roman sculptures. Opposite the Arco Foscari, the monumental staircase known as Scalone dei Giganti starts.
In the courtyard, where the ceremonies of the ducal coronation were held, of the tournaments and an annual bull-chase, finally two large wells for the water supply of the complex, the well of the Alberghetti and the well of Niccolò de ‘Conti, masterpieces of bronze Mannerist sculpture. The trachyte flooring and marble elements follow the exterior of the square.
Along the loggia and the portico one can appreciate a long succession of capitals and reliefs from different eras: those facing the quay are of fourteenth century origin, while those belonging to the so-called Loggia Foscara date back to the fifteenth century.
In addition to supporting the statues of the Archangel Gabriel and the Last Judgment of Solomon, the column that makes corner with the door of the Card presents a capital on the theme of justice and legislators; the second capital deals with the theme of children, the third that of birds, the fourth and the ninth that of virtues and vices, the fifth that of teaching, the sixth that of monsters, the seventh that of vices, the eighth that of virtues, the tenth that of fruit, the eleventh that of ladies and godsknights, the twelfth that of the work related to the months, the thirteenth, characterized at the higher level by a personification of Venice, that of marriage, the fourteenth that of nations, the fifteenth that of the age of man, the sixteenth that of crafts, the seventeenth that of animals, the eighteenth that of sculptors. The column that makes the corner between the Piazzetta and the Molo, marked by the presence above a simulacrum of the Archangel Michael and below by that of the famous group Adam and Eve, presents a capital on the theme ofcreation of man and the planets.
From this column starts the decorative apparatus overlooking the Lagoon: the twentieth capital, second of this prospect, is decorated on the theme of the philosophers, the twenty-first on that of the Venetians, the twenty-second on that of the ladies and knights, the twenty-third on that of the animals, the twenty-fourth on that of the lions, the twenty-fifth on that of the virtues and vices, the twenty-sixth on that of the birds, the twenty-seventh on that of the vices, the twenty-eighth on that of the virtues, the twenty-ninth on that of the monsters, the thirtieth on that of vices and virtues, the thirty-first on that of the ladies, the thirty-second on that of the emperors, the thirty-third on that of the children, the thirty-fourth on that of the knights, the thirty-fifth on that of the birds, the thirty-sixth on that of the ‘ infancy: on this last pillar there are also the statues of the Archangel Raphael, Tobiolo and Noah, which conclude the façade.
Scala dei Giganti
Built between 1483 and 1485 on a project by Antonio Rizzo, who decorated it with precious reliefs including Fame and Vittorie, the Scala dei Giganti owes its name to the two marble statues of Sansovino depicting Mars and Neptune placed here in 1567. The monumental staircase connects the courtyard to the internal loggia on the first floor and was the place dedicated to the ceremony of the ducal coronation. The two colossal statues were to represent the power and dominion of Venice on land and on the sea. Between the two statues he found a place time theGoing lion of Luigi Borro.
The staircase is adjacent to the arch dedicated to the doge Francesco Foscari, called Arco Foscari, a true triumphal arch, round, alternating bands in Istrian stone and red Verona marble, crowned with gothic pinnacles and a group of soaring sculptures by Antonio Bregno and other masters of Lombard origin, who represent the allegories of the arts. The two statues of Antonio Rizzo with Adam and Eve were also placed on the front of the staircase, now exhibited inside the building and replaced by copies. The arch is connected to the Porta della Carta through the Foscari entrance hall, from which today you exit the Palazzo. To the left of the Scala dei Giganti is a small courtyard, bordered by a Renaissance building characterized by tympanum windows, built by Giorgio Spavento and Antonio Abbondi, known as the Senators, as the members of the Senate met here during the solemn ceremonies.
Natural continuation of the Scala dei Giganti is the Scala d’Oro, named for the rich decorations in white stucco and pure gold leaf of the vault, executed starting from 1557 by Alessandro Vittoria, while the fresco panels, from the same period, they are the work of Giambattista Franco. It was built to separate the spaces dedicated to the private dwelling of the doge, located to the north, from the courthouse, which is located to the south. Despite the deceptive presence of the emblem of doge Andrea Gritti in a keystone, the golden staircase was built during the dogati of the doges Lorenzo and Girolamo Priuli, who reigned between 1556 and 1567, on a project by Jacopo Sansovino in 1555 and completed in two phases, first by Scarpagnino in 1559 and then under the slate of Sebastiano Venier. The arch with the Gritti crest had been erected previously and gave on a temporary wooden staircase, built during the Gritti platoon starting from 1538. Before the Sansovino project was carried out in 1555, architects such as Michele Sanmicheli and Andrea Palladio had already been called upon.
As a staircase of honor, the Scala d’Oro leads on two flights from the loggias to the two upper floors, on each of which opens into a vestibule with large windows. Just after the entrance arch, built by Antonio Abbondi, there are two columns supporting marble groups executed in the mid- sixteenth century by the sculptor Tiziano Aspetti, depicting Hercules killing the Hydra and Atlas ruling the world. These works clearly allude to the wisdom and wisdom needed by lawmakers for good administration.
The staircase is organized on five ramps: on the first ramp, twenty steps, opens a landing to the left of which is a door through which you enter a dressing room of the regal squires. On the right of the landing there is the second ramp, which leads in the opposite direction, leading to the long corridor which overlooks the Sala degli Scarlatti. The third ramp consists of eighteen steps and on its landing overlooks the Sala dello Scudo: it follows the same axis as the previous one, leading to the level of the dogale apartment. The fourth and fifth ramps, aligned with each other and facing each other as towards the first and third, lead to the Square Atrium, which overlooks the Hall of the Four Doors. On the first and second ramp the stuccoes are arranged in a straight line and divide the space of the vault into seven sectors. The first ramp is dedicated to Venus and alludes to the conquest of Cyprus, the birthplace of the goddess. In the branch towards the doge’s apartment, the decoration exalts Neptune, signifying the Venetian dominion over the sea.
Bridge of Sighs and the New Prisons
A corridor leads over the Bridge of Sighs, built in 1614 to link the Doge’s Palace to the structure intended to house the New Prisons. Enclosed and covered on all sides, the bridge contains two separate corridors that run next to each other. That which visitors use today linked the Prisons to the chambers of the Magistrato alle Leggi and the Quarantia Criminal; the other linked the prisons to the State Advocacy rooms and the Parlatorio. Both corridors are linked to the service staircase that leads from the ground floor cells of the Pozzi to the roof cells of the Piombi.
The famous name of the bridge dates from the Romantic period and was supposed to refer to the sighs of prisoners who, passing from the courtroom to the cell in which they would serve their sentence, took a last look at freedom as they glimpsed the lagoon and San Giorgio through the small windows. In the mid-16th century it was decided to build a new structure on the other side of the canal to the side of the palace which would house prisons and the chambers of the magistrates known as the Notte al Criminal. Ultimately linked to the palace by the Bridge of Sighs, the building was intended to improve the conditions for prisoners with larger and more light-filled and airy cells. However, certain sections of the new prisons fall short of this aim, particularly those laid out with passageways on all sides and those cells which give onto the inner courtyard of the building. In keeping with previous traditions, each cell was lined with overlapping planks of larch that were nailed in place.
The only art theft from the Doge’s Palace was executed on 9 October 1991 by Vincenzo Pipino, who hid in one of the cells in the New Prisons after lagging behind a tour group, then crossed the Bridge of Sighs in the middle of the night to the Sala di Censori. In that room was the Madonna col bambino, a work symbolic of “the power of the Venetian state” painted in the early 1500s by a member of the Vivarini school. By the next morning, it was in the possession of the Mala del Brenta organized crime group. The painting was recovered by the police on 7 November 1991.
The Palazzo Ducale, formerly the Doge’s Palace as the seat of the Doge, one of the symbols of the city of Venice and a masterpiece of Venetian Gothic, is a building that stands in the monumental area of Piazza San Marco, in the San Marco district, between homonymous square and the docks of Palazzo Ducale, contiguously to the Basilica of San Marco.
Doge’s Palace Building and history A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the Doge’s Palace is an impressive structure composed of layers of building elements and ornamentation, from its 14th and 15th century original foundations to the significant Renaissance and opulent Mannerist adjunctions. The structure is made up of three large blocks, incorporating previous constructions. The wing towards the St. Mark’s Basin is the oldest, rebuilt from 1340 onwards. The wing towards St. Mark’s Square was built in its present form from 1424 onwards. The canal-side wing, housing the Doge’s apartments and many government offices, dates from the Renaissance and was built between 1483 and 1565.
Distinguished by a style which, drawing inspiration from the Byzantine and Eastern architecture, exemplifies the intensity of the commercial and cultural relations between the Serenissima and the other European states, its beauty is based on an astute aesthetic and physical paradox, connected to the fact that the heavy bulk of the main body is supported by those that look like thin inlaid colonnades. The interiors, now partially deprived of the works that once decorated them, still retain a large art gallery, which includes works by the most famous Venetian masters, including Jacopo and Domenico Tintoretto, Tiziano Vecellio, Francesco Bassano, Paolo Veronese,Giambattista Zelotti, Jacopo Palma the Younger, Andrea Vicentino and Antonio Vassilacchi.
The former seat of the Venetian doge and magistrates, founded after 812, repeatedly struck by fires and consequently rebuilt, has followed the history of the Serenissima, from the beginning until the fall: annexed Venice to the Kingdom of Italy and passed the building under the jurisdiction of the latter, it became a museum. Today it houses the headquarters of the Civic Museum of Palazzo Ducale, part of the Venice Civic Museums Foundation (MUVE), visited by 1 319 527 people in 2012.