The Doge's Palace is a gothic palace in Venice. In Italian it is called the Palazzo Ducale di Venezia. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice.
Its two most visible facades look towards the Venetian Lagoon and St Mark's Square, or rather the Piazzetta. The use of arcading in the lower stories produces an interesting "gravity-defying" effect. There is also effective use of colour contrasts.
The current palace was largely constructed from 1309 to 1424, designed perhaps by Filippo Calendario. It replaced earlier fortified buildings of which relatively little is known. Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bon created the Porta della Carta in 1442, a monumental late-gothic gate on the Piazzetta side of the palace. This gate leads to a central courtyard.
The palace was badly damaged by fire in 1574. In the subsequent rebuilding work it was decided to respect the original Gothic style, despite the submission of a neo-classical alternative design by Palladio. However, there are some classical features, for example since the sixteenth century the palace has been linked to the prison by the Bridge of Sighs.
As well as being the ducal residence, the palace housed political institutions of the Republic of Venice until the Napoleonic occupation of the city. Venice was ruled by an aristocratic elite, but there was a facility for citizens to submit written complaints at what was known as the Bussola chamber. [from Wikipedia]
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