DOGE'S PALACE, Exterior

Audio File length: 2.25
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English / USA Language: English / USA

Look for a good spot to admire the Palace among the pigeons, groups of tourists, street stalls, and equipment for high water. The long square building has two identical façades that are divided into three overlapping sections. As you look up, the Palace seems to lose weight in a play of shadows, light, and color that is enhanced by the changing weather conditions and reflections from the water.

The ground floor consists of a portico with 36 columns and carved capitals that support the arcades.

Above you a light, Gothic loggia opens up with an almost musical rhythm; note how there are twice as many arches than in the portico below. Also note the four-"petal" circular openings in the upper end of the fretwork.

Finally, admire the high, smooth surface at the top of the building that's enlivened by a two-tone decorative diamond pattern made of white Istrian stone and pink Verona marble. Instead of the battlements that usually crown the top of military buildings, here you can see a bizarre decoration, all spires and pinnacles.

Large balconies with a number of sculptures open up on the two façades. If you look at the top floor of the façade overlooking the pier, you'll see two windows with three arches, called trifore, or three-light windows, which are the oldest part of the building.

The architecture features important Gothic and Renaissance sculptures. Walking along the portico, enjoy looking at the fourteenth-century capitals with different scenes. The large groups on the corners depict biblical figures indicating the building's role in the city's administration: the Porta della Carta, or Carta Gate, has "The Justice of Solomon" with Archangel Gabriel (a symbol of peace),  between the Square and the Pier you can see the "Sin of Adam and Eve" with Archangel Michael and his drawn sword (symbol of justice), on the side with the bridge you can see the Ponte della Paglia, or Straw Bridge and "The drunkenness of Noah" with Archangel Raphael (the symbol of trade).

 

FUN FACT: on the shore called Riva degli Schiavoni, the palace is connected to the fourteenth century Ponte della Paglia, which is wide and low. Do you know how it got this name? Because it was used to supply straw and food for the Palace's livestock stables: in fact, there were even horses in Venice, but they were very numbered and reserved for the most important figures of the Republic!

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