Child-friendly visit of the Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs and Prison

Dec 27, 2020architecture, art, history, painting, palace0 comments

 

Doge’s Palace

Also the visit of the Doge’s Palace, the former residence of the Venetian government with its gorgeous rooms and grand paintings, can become an exciting tour for children with thrilling stories.

Mythological heroes

In the courtyard of the Doge’s Palace two statues slightly bigger than life await us at the top of the famous Giants‘ Staircase, the Greek God of war, Ares and the God of the Sea, Poseidon with a sea creature.

Giants‘ Staircase in the courtyard of the Doge’s Palace in Venice

Giants‘ Staircase in the courtyard of the Doge’s Palace in Venice

What element should Poseidon be holding in his hand and is missing?

the statue of Poseidon at the top of the Giants‘ Staircase by Jacopo Sansovino

the statue of Poseidon at the top of the Giants‘ Staircase by Jacopo Sansovino

the statue of Ares at the top of the Giants‘ Staircase by Jacopo Sansovino

the statue of Ares at the top of the Giants‘ Staircase by Jacopo Sansovino

By the way, this is the staircase Jack and Annie walk up in Carnival at Candlelight, one of the stories from The Magic Treehouse books by Mary Pope Osborne.

At the beginning of the next staircase, the Golden Staircase, stand Atlas, the Titan condemned to support the celestial heavens and Hercules famous for his strength.

Atlas by Tiziano Aspetti at the beginning of the Golden Staircase

Atlas by Tiziano Aspetti at the beginning of the Golden Staircase

Hercules by Tiziano Aspetti at the beginning of the Golden Staircase

Hercules by Tiziano Aspetti at the beginning of the Golden Staircase

Hercules is represented in one of his 12 Labours, slaying the serpentine water monster, famous for its nine heads.

serpentine water monster by Tiziano Aspetti at the beginning of the Golden Staircase

serpentine water monster by Tiziano Aspetti at the beginning of the Golden Staircase

What is the name of this monster?

Martial symbols

The imposing Golden Staircase leads from the Loggia into the main floors of the Doge’s Palace. The barrel-vaulted ceiling is in part frescoed and in part decorated with white 24 carat gilded stucco.
In the marble handrails we can detect several martial symbols such as suits of armours, helmets, shields and splint leg protections.

suit of armour

suit of armour

helmet

helmet

shields

shields

shields

shields

splint leg protections

splint leg protections

Which one do you prefer?

Through already impressive waiting rooms we reach the imposing political rooms where the different offices were. These were all redecorated after fires in the late 16th century when Venice had already reached her peak and the economy had started declining; hence these rooms were decorated as impressively as possible to show off the former richness and grandeur.

In the Collegio where once the Doge, his advisors and politicians greeted visitors, we search again for the two Gods of War and the Sea; these can be easily detected in the oil canvases by Paolo Veronese set in gilded carved wooden frames.

Paolo Veronese, ceiling of the Collegio room in the Doge’s Palace

Paolo Veronese, ceiling of the Collegio room in the Doge’s Palace

Soldiers and suits of armours can be spotted besides philosophers also in the ceiling of the Baroque Senate.
Can you find them?

Andrea Vicentino, Roman soldier, ceiling of the Senate in the Doge’s Palace

Andrea Vicentino, Roman soldier, ceiling of the Senate in the Doge’s Palace

Enthralling is also the story behind the several ‘Bocca della Verità’, scattered around in the Doge’s Palace used for complaints and denunciations.
How did they work exactly?

Bocca della Verità, Loggia in the Eastern section

Bocca della Verità, Loggia in the Eastern section

Bocca della Verità, Sala della Bussola

Bocca della Verità, Sala della Bussola

Armoury

The rich collection of weapons in the Doge’s Palace was intended to defend politicians, to face unpredicted events and the maintenance and care of it was entrusted to judges. Unfortunately this collection was heavily reduced in the 19th century during the French and Austrian occupations.
Luckily we can still admire halberds, pikes, axes, swords and war clubs…
How much would a suit of armour weigh? What was a Brigantina?

twenty-barrelled harquebus

twenty-barrelled harquebus

Bridge of Sighs

Like prisoners we will cross the famous Bridge of Sighs, Ponte dei Sospiri.

view from the inside of the Bridge of Sighs towards the outside

view from the inside of the Bridge of Sighs towards the outside

Prison

The scenario changes abruptly, dark cells and massive doors.

upper floor of the prison

upper floor of the prison

 

massive entrance door to a cell

massive entrance door to a cell

How many prisoners were imprisoned together? How were they fed? Did anybody ever manage to escape?

Yes, Jack and Annie, for example by means of one of their magic spells, by melting and bending the iron bars.

But also one story goes that a small group of prisoners managed to ……..

Fiona Giusto
BestVeniceGuides.it
www.venicetours.it