In English

The Doge’s Palace was up to 1797 the residence of the Doge (the Venetian leader), the seat of the government, the palace of justice and the archive for all records. Thousands of men walked up and down the Golden Staircase, thousands of hands touched its now smoothed railings, thousands of visitors stopped in front of those wooden doors before walking in.

Nowadays thousands of visitors walk daily through the building, nearly  1,300,000 a year in 2015, making it thus the most visited museum in Venice.

During the day I visit several times a week these impressive rooms; depending on the season I find other colleagues with small parties or bigger groups with headsets, but very rarely are these empty. I always wondered what they look like empty and at night.

Well, this year the Doge’s Palace was open in the summer months from Fridays to Sundays up to 23 hours, 11 pm.

courtyard at night

courtyard at night, Southern side

Two weekends ago around 9 pm I set off to the Doge’s Palace with my camera full of expectations. I was very much looking forward to this evening visit that I had had to postpone a couple of times.

All decorations in the institutional rooms were redone after two fires in 1574 and 1577 at a time when Venice had long reached and was past its peak, at a point when the state was declining fast. The rooms were therefore redone as splendid and as monumental as possible, self – glorification in one word.

Was it possible for these rooms to look even more spectacular than usual, I asked myself ?

Doge’s palace at night

The courtyard was empty, the sky was getting quickly really dark, the lights were on.
It was silent and breathtaking. Photos do not render justice to this splendid atmosphere.

courtyard at night

courtyard at night, Northern side

courtyard at night

courtyard at night, Eastern side

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I walked up to the Renaissance Golden Staircase. I must admit the frescoed ceiling of the staircase of Jacopo Sansovino looked as impressive as usual, not much different compared to during the day.

Golden staircase

Golden staircase

Venetia, personification of Venice

detail, personification of Venice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe my expectations were too high?

Suddenly when turning into the first Square Room I could see through the door leading into the Room of the Four Doors, into the Anticollegio and the Collegio, an intimidating sequence of doors. The shining terrazzo floor invited me immediately to enter further.

intimidating sequence of rooms

intimidating sequence of doors/rooms from the Square Room

Anticollegio

Anticollegio, door leading into the Collegio

The white and gilded plastered ceiling of the two waiting rooms was attractive, but my attention was drawn to the sumptuous wooden carved ceiling of the Collegio.

Paolo Veronese’s paintings were magnificent, but the frames by Antonio da Ponte in their elegant lines had acquired more importance. These ceilings with their symmetrical patterns determine without any doubt the feeling of amazement and wonder when stepping into the room.

Collegio ceiling

amazing Collegio ceiling

Collegio, Venetia between peace and justice

detail, Venetia, peace and justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I felt the same feeling when looking up at the frames by Cristoforo Sorte in the Senate where I started noticing details I had never seen before. In the Collegio Da Ponte united  the frames by using curvilinear swirls, Sorte instead by using elastic long forms like wooden ribbons and festoons.

details of ceiling

detail of ceiling in the Senate

details

detail, winged lion

details

detail

details

detail, coat of arms Da Ponte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then a quick walk through the Council of Ten and the Armoury: suspense, suspense for the last room, the grand and inspiring Gran Consiglio, the biggest room ever built in Venice.

It is my favorite room during the day, magnificent, grand and awe-inspiring; and at night the room transmits to the visitor an extraordinary non describable and incredible ‘energy’.

Maggior Consiglio

the magnificent and awe-inspiring Maggior Consiglio of the Doge’s palace

Should you be in Venice please try to plan a visit at the very end of the day when the museum is no longer crowded and when dusk is falling.

courtyard at night

courtyard with well at night

courtyard at night

Giants’ staircase at night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiona Giusto
www.venicetours.it

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Showing 3 comments
  • Denisa and Craig Garner
    Reply

    Fiona is a wealth of knowledge who has a true love of Venice and a pride of showing it to visitors. She took us to a place that no guidebook had mentioned, and she took us back to familiar places to show us aspects we had never seen. Her English is excellent and her personality is very engaging. We are reuniting with her on our next visit to Venice in 2017.

  • Elena Dalrymple
    Reply

    Our first family trip to Venice (four adults and six children) was really “made” by our tour with Fiona.

    She was brilliant with the kids – really informative but a lot of fun, too – and gave us so many tips to help us make the most out of our time in Venice. The teenagers enjoyed her tour just as much as the six-year-olds (no mean feat!). Her English is incredibly fluent and articulate and her stories show the wealth of her local knowledge.

    Very, very highly recommended to all families going to Venice – she really made the city come alive for the kids.

    • fiona
      Reply

      dear Elena,
      thank you for your kind comment.
      It was great fun also for me to guide your family through Venice.
      ciao!
      a presto
      Fiona

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