Life of the Doge: The Doge’s Apartment Returns to Palazzo Ducale

Recounting the Millennia-Old History of a Venetian Institutional Figure

From Friday, July 14, 2023, the Doge’s Apartment once again becomes part of the exhibition route at Palazzo Ducale, open to all visitors. This new installation has been created to narrate the story of the fascinating figure of the Doge, one of Venice’s most solid and long-standing institutional leaders. Over the centuries, the Most Serene Republic elected 120 Doges, from the first in 697, Paoluccio Anafesto, to the last, Ludovico Manin, who abdicated in 1797.

A Reserved Place at the Heart of Palazzo Ducale

The Doge’s Apartment was the most private core of Palazzo Ducale. It housed representation spaces accessible only to a select few and reserved for exclusive meetings and audiences. Strategically located between the Rio della Canonica, the Golden Staircase, and the Basilica of San Marco, the apartment has maintained its position throughout the centuries, although it has undergone various renovations that altered its appearance. Its current Renaissance appearance dates back to the late 16th century.

A New Installation Depicting the Figure of the Doge

The new installation aims to present the figure of the Doge to today’s audience through approximately a hundred paintings, sculptures, artifacts, maps, manuscripts and printed texts, ducal commissions and promissions, medals, and coins. This project enhances works from the civic heritage held by the Muve Foundation, which are not usually exhibited, offering a captivating narrative of the key events in the history of the ducal institution. In addition to major events, it highlights anecdotes, curiosities, ceremonial etiquette, lexical insights, and starts precisely from the exhibited material evidence.

The Figure of the Doge: A Representative of Power with Limitations

The Doge, a Head of State of Byzantine origin with military connotations, became over the centuries the official representative of the Most Serene Republic in the eyes of the world. Although referred to as “Monsignor the Doge” in public acts, the Doge symbolizes and embodies Venetian power. They are the protagonist of solemn public ceremonies, receptions, and festivities. However, their real power is limited and controlled by the Venetian merchant aristocracy, while constant vigilance is exercised by the Council of Ten. The Doge is the “Most Serene Prince” who remains the Republic’s foremost servant.

A Thematic Pathway Exploring the Life of the Doge

The Doge’s thematic pathway begins with the presentation of the Doge’s election, the tools used, the method, and the symbols associated with the election. Several anecdotes are narrated, such as the longest conclave, as well as traditional coronation ceremonies. Subsequently, in the Grimani Room, the theme of diplomacy and international relations, crucial for the safeguarding and prosperity of Venice, is addressed.

The following room recounts some of the most significant battles fought by the Venetians, focusing on the life of the Doge, such as Sebastiano Venier for the Battle of Lepanto (1571) and Francesco Erizzo for the start of the War of Candia (Crete).

The Stucco Room presents the famous conspiracy of Baiamonte Tiepolo, which led to the establishment of the powerful Council of Ten.

The subsequent rooms explore the more worldly and princely aspects of the Doge’s life, such as their relationship with the Doge’s consort, the festivals, and ceremonies that marked the Most Serene Republic’s calendar.

The theme of the Doge’s and the Doge’s consort’s attire throughout the centuries is also examined, reflecting the Byzantine origin of the ducal institution and the transformation of the Doge into the “Most Serene Prince.”

The Last Room: The End of the Republic and the Ducal Institution

The final room of the Doge’s thematic pathway is dedicated to the events of the last Doges, with a particular focus on the last Doge, Ludovico Manin, whose abdication in 1797 marked the fall of the Republic and the end of the Most Serene Republic’s history.

The twelfth room of the new thematic pathway at the Doge’s Palace is dedicated to educational and in-depth activities managed by the Educational Activities Office.

It is worth noting that throughout the summer, Palazzo Ducale will also be open in the evenings every Friday and Saturday until 11:00 PM (last admission at 10:00 PM), as well as on June 1, August 14, and August 15.

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Life of the Doge: The Doge’s Apartment Returns to Palazzo Ducale


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