VENICE: THE POWER OF THE PAST
St Mark’s Basilica, dedicated in 1094, was the private chapel of the Doges’ Palace until 1806.
It is currently Venice’s Patriarchal Seat, still used daily for religious services and the occasional official ceremony.
With its fantastically ornate multi columned façade, the spiritual intensity of its golden mosaics and sumptuously colored marble floor, St Mark’s Basilica introduces the theme of Venice’s intense and enduring relationships with Constantinople and the Middle Eastern world.
We will access the Basilica via our priority entrance, available April through October. Upon request, we can include a visit the so called Pala d’ Oro, as to say the Golden altar screen.
The Pala is a quintessential example of the Venetian admiration of gold, precious stones, and bright colors like lapis lazuli blue, red, and turquoise.
Continuing, we may climb the old staircase to the upper floor Loggia. The Loggia is renowned for both its four gilt bronze Horses, acclaimed symbols of Venice and the exceptional view of the Piazza below.
We will dedicate the rest of our tour to the Doge’s Palace, seat of Venetian power for over nine centuries.
Here you will learn about the rise and fall, and everything in between, of “La Serenissima,” the Most Serene Venetian Republic.
During VENICE: THE POWER OF THE PAST tour our guide will also explain the political, legislative, and juridical institutions that were at the base of this long-lived and highly organized State.
If you are partial to painting and sculpture, you will be impressed by the powerful works by Jacopo Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese, Jacopo Sansovino, and others.
These works are displayed on the ceiling of the Golden Staircase, the Doge’s Apartment walls and the governmental rooms.
These are perfect examples of how efficiently art can help political propaganda in any era.
Once across the Bridge of Sighs, we shall visit the “New” Prisons, a separate building designed at the end of the 16th century to be a more humane and functional jail. The building was in use until 1922.
If you want to see more of the Doge’s Palace you might like our Venice History for Families tour.
- The Doges’ Palace interior
- St Mark’s Basilica (skipping the line)
- Bridge of Sighs and New Prisons
- General overview of St Mark’s Square with historical intro
VENICE, THE POWER OF THE PAST
The first Doges’ Palace was built on the same location of the present one around 810, mostly for strategic purposes, and must have looked like a simple if bulky fortress.
The location, with St Giorgio Maggiore Island right on the opposite shore of the deep watercourse, permitted the military control on any ship arriving from the Adriatic Sea into the heart of Venice.
Nowadays from here you can see the hundreds of cruise ships coming in or leaving, but Venetians hope that sooner or later these enormous ‘monsters’ will be diverted to a less fragile and artistically relevant area of the Lagoon.
There was a first reconstruction of the Ducal Palace by 1177, due to the generosity of Doge Sebastiano Ziani, with the occasion of the historical meeting in Venice of the Pope Alexander III and Friedrich Barbarossa,
DRESS CODE AND ADVICE
- No shorts, no sleeveless shirts. Knee high skirts/pants and short sleeves are ok!
- St. Mark’s Basilica is not accessible to visits on Sunday mornings (during religious services) and other high holidays.
This tour lasts three hours and costs 295 euros up to six people (not per person), only private parties. For larger parties send us an email!
Museum fees per person:
- Doge’s Palace: 31 euros (full rate) – 16 euros (reduced rate)
S. Mark’s Basilica 7 euros
S. Mark’s Basilica + Pala d’Oro + Loggia of the Horses : 21 euros