The unmistakable shape of Doge’s Palace is the first thing visitors see as they land in Venice. It has been a sight for travelers for centuries, and still wows visitors from all corners of the globe as the representative symbol of Venice culture. The combined beauty of the Piazzetta posing in front of the Basilica of San Marco, this scenery is perhaps the most beautiful in Italy, and a necessary stop on any journey to the peninsula.
For centuries, Doge’s Palace has had three main roles: as the residence of the Doge, – who was the elected chief of state – as the seat of government and as the palace of justice. History therefore permeates this location, and it acts a representative symbol of Venice culture for the entire world.
When the palace was initially built in the 9th century, it served as more of a fortress than a home of a ruler. Over the centuries, various rebuilding missions and fires changed it into a grand figure of Venetian gothic architecture. Its Italian roots are shown through its sizable penchant for lightness. The multi-colored faÃ§ades and perforations that seem to be made of stone lace create an elegant structure that isn’t too imposing in appearance. This is in contrast to many other medieval palaces in Italy, which has huge bases for easier defense, and suffer architecturally as a result.
The state palace of Venice was meant to be a symbol of the trust and fidelity the Venetian rulers had for their people. Because the Doge was elected, the government was not seen as ruling by divine right or imposition, but rather as a member of the society it ruled. Just as the government was a symbol of the people, so too was the palace itself.
The thirty-six stone arches located throughout the palace are well-worth the time one will spend looking for them. Carved into these arches are figures as diverse as Italy herself, with saints and martyrs looking down with benediction at every turn. There are also more symbolic figures located throughout, such as birds and signs of the zodiac, which truly reveal the ingenuity of the palace’s builders.
In ancient times, these arches were the place where the Doge watched public executions and announced death sentences, usually under the 9th arch, which was painted red. Today, visitors and tourists can stand in the same spot where he once stood, and marvel at the years of history that passed right before their eyes. It is truly a life-changing experience, and one that should not be passed up by lovers of Italian culture.