Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Doges and the art of the home-court advantage

Some spots afford great views no matter where you look.  One is in front of and to the right of the Doge's Palace here in Venice.  These six shots came from me standing in one place, shooting, turning slightly, and shooting again.

As always, click on an image to see a larger version.

A clearer shot of the lovely structure across the water.

The Doge's palace was the seat of government, functionally equivalent to the de' Medici's Palazzo Vecchio and equally as intimidating, though in somewhat different ways.  It's another do-not-miss Venetian attraction.  The structure grew over hundreds of years into the enclosed fortress it is today.  To give you a sense of the different types of construction, here's a shot from the entrance end of the interior courtyard.

The Venetian systems of government and justice were, to put it mildly, complicated and involved multiple groups with somewhat overlapping responsibilities.  One little tidbit I found interesting was that any citizen could report a crime by sliding an accusatory note through the slot for the relevant administrator.  Here you can see two of those slots.

To gain access to the various bodies of government, one would typically ascend the golden staircase.  Here's a shot down it.

Yeah, you could easily be intimidated by the time you reached the top--and then you'd have to climb another one just like it.

The progressively more luxurious halls that would ultimately take you to the various governing bodies are amazing, rooms crowded with wonderful paintings by Veronese and Tintoretto, among others. They did not permit photography, so I tried to minimize the number of shots I took; most visitors didn't even bother.  Here's a sense of one of the rooms.

The main hall, a room more than a hundred feet wide and more than twice that long, definitely stood its ground against anything the de' Medicis produced.

The paintings in this room, including the Il Paradiso huge piece at the far end, were by the next generation of painters, Tintoretto's son and the students of the masters who painted the works in the other rooms.  These guys just were not as strong as the best of the previous generation, but the art is mind-bogglingly complex and impressive nonetheless.

The armory rooms provided a very different kind of treat.  Dave, if you're reading this, I hope you get to visit them, and I offer this one happy snap for your perusal. 

The prison cells, which you access via enclosed walkways over the Bridge of Sighs, were also well worth a visit, cold and damp even on a reasonable early April day.  They must have been brutal in the winter.

As with so many other places I've visited on this trip, by the time I left this museum, my head and heart were full and craving a break.


David Drake said...

Dear Mark,
It reminds me of Windsor Castle and served much the same purpose in its day, I suspect.
Continue to have fun and relax!

Griffin Barber said...

Been there, too! Quite the amazing spectacle.


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