A bit of history of the Doge’s Palace
One of Europe’s most beautiful and easily recognizable buildings, the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) was not only the center of government during the Venetian Republic but also the residence of the Doge. The Doge’s first palace was a wretched, gloomy wooden fortress with massive defensive towers, and after several fires, the castle was converted into a Byzantine-style palace. The one you see today was built mainly in the 14th century, and the façade overlooking the Piazzetta dates from the first half of the 15th century. Although the palace is now a museum, unlike most museums, these paintings were created especially to decorate the Doge’s Palace, not added later. The art works, iconic beauty, and interesting history of the Doge’s Palace make it one of Venice’s major attractions for tourists.
Doge’s Palace was probably built between the 10th and 11th centuries on the basis of a fortified central core. This nucleus was constituted with a central body with towers in the corners forming one of the masterpieces of the Venetian Gothic. In the 12th century, the first restructuring was carried out with the duke Sebastiano Ziani, who transformed the fort into an elegant palace. Later in 1200 a new expansion was realized.
Between 1339 and 1342 during the government of Bartolomeo Gradenigo, the palace began to obtain its present form. The doge Francesco Foscari extended the palace in 1424 towards the side of the Basilica of San Marco. In 1442 the architects Giovanni Bon and Bartolomeo Bon added the Porta della Carta. The inner part houses the apartments of the Doge and was built by the architect Antonio Rizzo after the fire of 1483. Throughout the 16th century there were several devastating fires alternating with restructuring and embellishments like the “Scala dei Giganti” (The Stairs of the Giants) and the creation of the main treasure: the Crucifixion of Tintoretto, painted to replace a damaged mural in one of the fires.
At the beginning of the 17th century, the architect Antonio Contin added the “Prigioni Nuove” (New Prisons), beyond the canal connecting them to the Palace with the Bridge of Sighs, where the convicted went on their way to the new prison. In 1797, after the fall of the Republic of Venice, the Palace was conditioned to house the administrative offices. The prison, called “i Piombi” (the Leads) by the covering of the roof, retained their old function. After the annexation of Venice to the Kingdom of Italy, the palace underwent several restructurings until 1923 when it was destined to become one of the most important museums of Venice. Source