Throughout history, Venice has been a seat of power, wealth and art, and nowhere embodies this more than the magnificent Palazzo Ducale, or Doge’s Palace, in St Mark’s Square. The richness of its sumptuous architecture and ornately painted halls could take days to pore over. Not everyone has such luxury of time, but even if you’re on a short stopover in the city, make sure to feature the Palace on your must-see itinerary of Venice – airport transfers can fire you into the city before you can say gondola, so take advantage of the short trip in to soak up all the wonders of this most exquisite building.
The History of the Palace
The original palace was built during the ninth century AD, and resembled more of a highly-fortified castle than the building we know today. However, it suffered a series of fires and was consequently re-constructed in its present form between 1340 and 1424, when the wing facing the Piazetta was completed.
The building has always served as the seat of power and government in Venice, and the Doge’s Palace was built specifically to reflect the Republic’s relationship with its citizens. It also served as a palace of justice and as the private residence of the Doge (or Duke), who was elected by the citizens of Venice but maintained a lifestyle and status that was the equal of kings.
The Palace is a beacon of Venetian Gothic style, known for its lightness, ornate elegance and decorative stone lacing (known as loggias). The Palace is marked by its colonnades, arches and façade of geometric patterns, maintaining perfect symmetry. Inside the courtyard, the portico is arranged with thirty-six sculptured capitals, carved with symbolic figures such as saints, knights and virtues. The Doge’s Palace differs to other medieval palaces in that it is laid out with loggias below and full walls above, setting it apart as completely unique.
Looking beyond its overall design, there are a number of key features that make the Palace the very image of grandeur and majesty:
Giant’s Stairway: this forms part of the main entrance to the Palace, and is so-named because of its gigantic statues of the classical gods Mars and Neptune, which stand at the top of the staircase, representing Venetian control of both land and sea. It was here that the Doge’s crowning took place.
Higher Council Hall: adorned with Tintoretto’s massive painting of Paradise (the world’s largest oil painting) and 76 portraits of the Doges, this hall would take up to 2,000 members of the aristocracy in a staggering display of the city’s power and wealth.
Senate Hall: no less grand than the Higher Council Hall, this was used for the appointment of new ambassadors and carrying out functions of government.
Golden Staircase: aptly named, this gleaming stucco-decorated staircase leads up to the Doge’s apartments and would only have been used by the most important of magistrates.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Palace has only recently revealed some of its most prized sculptures and decorations through a new Doge’s Hidden Treasures guided tour. Following restoration work, visitors can now enter the Doge’s private rooms in the wing of the palace adjacent to the Basilica, taking in the coffers where the State treasures are conserved, the hanging terrace and a staircase decorated with art by Titian. For lovers of art and history, booking a spot on one of these tours is an absolute must.
How to Get There
Shuttle Direct’s Venice airport transfers can whisk you away in no time at all from the terminal right into the heart of the historic city. Whether flying to Treviso or Marco Polo terminals, our Venice airport transfers are quick, low-cost and comfortable, for both private services and shared shuttles. In less than an hour of landing, you could be standing in front of the Giant’s Stairway, gazing at its Gothic wonders – why not book today?
Lukas Johannes is a driver for Shuttle Direct, the number one provider of shared and private airport transfers all over Europe and northern Africa. If you’re looking for affordable Venice airport transfers , Lukas and his colleagues can make sure that you and your luggage get to and from the airport swiftly and safely.