Water (5) Venice

The Palace as seen from the bell tower of San Giorgio il Magiore

The Palace as seen from the bell tower of San Giorgio il Magiore

The Palace of the Dogi in Venice is one of the most impressing power headquarters I have visited. Its presence on the bay, showing itself clearly to the visitor, is noteworthy; it shows no impressive beauty in itself from the distance, but it is well inscribed in an overwhelming façade.

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The most interesting thing is what cannot be seen from outside (or what can be seen but not understood). The Palace houses the halls for the different councils that ruled the Republic, some of which had to take a large number of councilors. The logical solution from a structural viewpoint would have been to put these halls on the ground floor, with a majestic roof in the center of the courtyard, and then have the other, smaller dependencies, rise around and better using a masonry structure. But in this case the council halls were located on the highest level. This explains a lighter appearance of the two lower levels, giving a clear quality to the St Mark’s square and the urban front to the Grand Canal (even if beyond the colonnades you have massive walls), and the heavier appearance of the upper floor, in which the large halls are. On the corridors between these large halls there are giant maps of the world that show the vision that the navigator’s Republic had of itself.

The courtyard

The courtyard

The entire building is a palimpsest of styles and ways to decorate and organize an architecture, with surprising variations in corners, but always integrating that need to give a ceremonial access to the upper level to a sizeable number of councilors, having as a courtyard companion the St Mark’s Cathedral.

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