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.
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.
What element should Poseidon be holding in his hand and is missing?
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.
Hercules is represented in one of his 12 Labours, slaying the serpentine water monster, famous for its nine heads.
What is the name of this monster?
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.
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.
Soldiers and suits of armours can be spotted besides philosophers also in the ceiling of the Baroque Senate.
Can you find them?
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?
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?
Bridge of Sighs
Like prisoners we will cross the famous Bridge of Sighs, Ponte dei Sospiri.
The scenario changes abruptly, dark cells and massive doors.
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 ……..