There are a great number of beautiful palaces in Venice, but the Doge`s Palace, also known as Palazzo Ducale, may be referred to the main tourist sights of the city along with the St. Mark`s Cathedral.
The Doge`s Palace was built in the characteristic Venetian style, but at the same time it has an architectural peculiarity – the feeling of lightness and fragility. The effect is achieved on account that the upper part of the palace is very massive and its lower, fragile part is supported by a few columns.
The Doge`s Palace was a residence of the governor of the Republic of Venice (Doge). There were also held the sessions of ministries, Supreme Court, councils of the Venetian Republic and the other government institutions at the palace.
The first building of the Doge`s Palace was built on the shore of the Venetian Lagoon in 9 century. And for a long time the palace looked like an impregnable fortress, although it was repeatedly seized and burn down during numerous popular uprisings. The palace that we can see today was built during 1309-1340. Since that time it had been added and decorated in the course of several centuries.
Interiors of the Doge`s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) deserve a special attention. The palace has two entrances – by the embankment and by the St. Mark`s Cathedral. Over the latter entrance (sometimes referred to as the Paper Gate) you can see the beautiful sculptures of the winged lion (the symbol of Venice) and the kneeling doge Francesco Foscari. Under his rule Venice achieved the greatest power.
Almost all halls of the Doge`s Palace are richly decorated: everywhere there are many pictures of the famous Italian painters, gilt stucco work and carvings. Grand Council Chamber is the most impressive and world`s largest hall, which ceiling is supported by no column. Its area is 1350 m2. It has the Doge`s throne and six chairs for the members of the small council. Behind them there hangs a huge picture «Paradise» by Tintoretto, which is also called by the Venetians the world`s largest one: it is 7 meter high and 22 meters long.
The other rooms of the Doge`s Palace deserve not the least attention: the Chamber of Ballots (where elections were held), the Chamber of the Council of Ten (where court sessions were held), the Hall of the College (where foreign ambassadors were received). It will be interesting to see the famous stairways of the Doge`s Palace – the Golden Stairway and the Giant`s Stairway.