Not far from the San Marco Basilica you'll find the Palazzo Ducale di Venezia, the place, where used to live the government of the Republic of Venice. Dodge was chosen by Venice aristocracy and fulfilled his duties till the end of life. He ruled the country together with the Council of Ten. At first the dodge had a lot of power, which in the 13th century was still greatly controlled by rich families that wanted to influence the government. Starting with this epoch dodge had to take into consideration of the Ten about almost every question. The gothic palace was built in 1309-1424 on the fundament of the 9th century. Its architecture was influenced a lot by the culture of East: you can notice it by the arcades on the ground and 1st floor. The palace has three wings, located around the court. The first thing you notice there is the large staircase (Scala dei Giganti), which was used during state visits and official ceremonies, such as an inauguration of a new dodge. The interior is decorated with sculptures, paintings and leaf-gold. The whole eastern wall of Sala del Maggior Consiglio takes the 'Paradise' by Tintoretto. It is the most monumental painting of this artist, on which he and his learner worked for 10 years. It's 7,45 m tall and 24,65 m wide!
In the Dodge Palace took place all the most important political institutions of the Republic of Venice. There also used to be located offices of lawyers, naval official, chancellor and censor. A separate room was allotted to citizens, who wanted to prefer a complaint, it was called Bussola. At the Piazetta you'll see the enormous gate in late gothic style - Porta della Carta. They serve the main enter to the Palace. It was built by famous Venice architects brothers Bartolomeo and Giovanni Bon. From the other side the Palazzo Ducale di Venezia (which also served as a court) was connected with the former prison by a bridge (Ponte dei Sospiri). Nowadats it is a symbol of romantic Venice: a kiss under the bridge provides a couple with endless love. Though the bridge was called so not because of the romantic atmosphere, but because the prisoners sighed having the last look at Venice.
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