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Venice Doge's Palace

The Doge's Palace (Italian: Palazzo Ducale) is a gothic palace in Venice, northern Italy. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice.

Its two most visible facades look towards the Venetian Lagoon and St. Mark's Square, or rather the Piazzetta. The use of arcading in the lower stories produces an interesting "gravity-defying" effect. There is also effective use of colour contrasts.

Venice Doge's Palace

Venice Doge's Palace

The current palace was largely constructed from 1309 to 1424, designed perhaps by Filippo Calendario. It replaced earlier fortified buildings of which relatively little is known. Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bon created the Porta della Carta in 1442, a monumental late-gothic gate on the Piazzetta side of the palace. This gate leads to a central courtyard.

The palace was badly damaged by a fire on December 20, 1577. In the subsequent rebuilding work it was decided to respect the original Gothic style, despite the submission of a neo-classical alternative design by the influential Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. However, there are some classical features for example, since the 16th century, the palace has been linked to the prison by the Bridge of Sighs.

Venice Doge's Palace

Venice Doge's Palace

As well as being the ducal residence, the palace housed political institutions of the Republic of Venice until the Napoleonic occupation of the city in 1797. Venice was ruled by an aristocratic elite, but there was a facility for citizens to submit written complaints at what was known as the Bussola chamber.

The palazzo's principal function was to provide a space for the government to carry out its civic responsibilities to its people. The doge did, in fact, reside in the palazzo, however, he held no real power and was a representative figurehead for the Republic. The building is preserved as a museum. Inside are housed paintings by Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese.