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The building represents the seat of the Patriarchy of Venice and is positioned to the side of the St. Mark's Basilica, overlooking the Piazzetta dei Leoncini.

New headquarters for the Patriarchate (which had been located in San Pietro di Castello up to the 19th century) were required when the Basilica of San Marco was elected as a cathedral. 

The works were taken on by the architect Lorenzo Santi in 1837, ending in 1870; they were complicated as they became the subject of many criticisms and controversies, but Santi still managed to work on the facade of the palace and reorganise the interiors that functioned as a wing of the Doge's Palace (the Banqueting Hall of the Signoria) and connected to the Palazzo via a passage.  

The white Istrian stone façade is characterized by thin and tall pilasters, tall windows and bas-reliefs that decorate the attic. Two plaques at the entrance to commemorate the two cardinals who carried out their terms of office here and who later became Popes John XXIII and John Paul I. 

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