The Palazzo Ducale was erected in the IX century, initially as a castle that was then radically transformed in the years 1172-1178. Later, from the XIV century until 1463, the construction was repeatedly modified and enlarged. The palace also suffered two large destructive fires, the first in 1484 and the second in 1577.
As well as being an important symbol of the Republic of Venice, the Doge's Palace was also the Doge's private residence, the seat of the government and court. Its function ceased with the fall of the Republic in 1797. Inside are many halls and staterooms with beautiful decorations and large fireplaces.
The two external facades are in the Gothic style, but with the novelty of having a lighter lower section with a porch and loggia, while the heaviest part, the wall, is above.
The main entrance is the Porta della Carta, an example of the Late Gothic erected by Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bon in 1438, where - between two rows of statues and pinnacles - stands the statue of the Doge Francesco Foscari kneeling in front of the winged lion. Passing through the door you will find the Scala dei Giganti, at the top of which stand two large statues of Neptune and Mars erected by Jacopo Sansovino in 1554. The staircase was the entrance for the high offices of the state.
Within the inner courtyard which borders the St Mark’s Basilica are two bronze wells by Nicolò de Conti and Alfonso Alberghetti dating to the mid XVI century.
For a fee one can visit the Museo dell’Opera, the lavish rooms of the Ducal Apartment, the Sale Istituzionali, the Piano delle Logge, the Armory, the Prisons and the Secret Itineraries tour.
One can also find Jacopo Tintoretto's artistic works throughout the entire museum, from the Atrio Quadrato to the Sala delle Quattro Porte, from the Sala dell'Anticollegio to the Sala del Collegio, from the Sala del Senato to the Sala del Maggior Consiglio, and from the Sala dello Scrutinio to the Sala degli Inquisitori.