Doge’s Palace, Venice

The Doge’s Palace in Venice, historical residence of the Doge, was the centre of the city’s cultural and political life during the Republic.

The monumental Giants’ Staircase of the Doge’s Palace in Venice, built at the end of the 15th century, links the courtyard to the inner loggia and the location where the Doge was crowned. Its name derives from the majestic statues of Mars and Neptune, placed at the end of the stairway as symbols of the city’s rule over land and seas.

The collection


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Palazzo Ducale, Venice

Venice’s Palazzo Ducale was once the palace of the Doge and a series of symbols is linked to this figure, which were exhibited above all during the main public ceremonies: first and foremost, the ducal horn, the special red hat with a slightly pointed shape, worn over a white hood, together with the purple cloak, ceremonial sword, the ducal seat, the parasol and lastly, the eight standards with the Lion of St Mark, and still the emblem of the city in the eyes of the world.

Palazzo Ducale

The continuation of the Scala dei Giganti in the Doge's Palace in Venice, is the Scala d'Oro, so-named because of the stucco and pure gold decorations on the vault, built to separate the private apartments of the Doge from the public spaces. Between the two staircases, a vast system of galleries surrounds the entire building, creating the impression of an inverted architecture in which the lightweight bottom supports the massive part above.

Palazzo Ducale

The coronation of the Doge was held under the imposing statues of Mars and Neptune on the Scala dei Giganti, inside Palazzo Ducale in Venice. However, there was another ancient ceremony which formally bound the prince to his city: the "Marriage of the Sea". Every year, in fact, by dropping a consecrated ring into the waters of the lagoon and with the words "We wed thee, sea, with a token of your true and everlasting dominion” the Doge declared Venice and the sea to be indissolubly united.

The art work

The Giants’ Staircase was built in Venice at the end of the fifteenth century designed by Antonio Rizzo and can be found inside the famous Doges Palace, one of the symbols of the city and also antique residence of the Doge. The staircase’s name comes from the huge statues of Mars and Neptune, created by the sculptor and architect Jacopo Sansovino and placed at the top of the staircase in 1557 to represent the dominion and power of Venice on land and sea.

The large staircase, which connects the courtyard to the internal loggia was where the coronation ceremony of the Doge – the prince of the Republic of Venice – took place: this was a truly important event for the city, celebrated in great style. The Doge would climb to the top of the staircase and receive the Ducal horn, the characteristic red beret embellished with a circular crown, and then pronounce the “Doge’s promise”, the famous promise to defend and respect the Venetian Republic forever. Just after the Doge was elected, he would be presented to the people in the basilica of San Marco, next to the Doge’s Palace, with the proclamation “Questo xe missier lo Doxe, se ve piase” (“this is your Doge, if you like him”).