Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale)#8 in Best Things To Do in Venice
Views from the Venetian Lagoon give the Doge's Palace an ethereal look – almost like it's floating on top of water. But it's fitting, as the Doge's Palace (or Palazzo Ducale) has witnessed an intriguing history in its role as the residence of the doge (leader), the seat of government and the palace of justice. Everything from execution orders to the affairs of Venetian leaders was carried out here; and a web of secret passageways and hidden doors reveals a decidedly mysterious past.
Along with the attraction's historical significance, Doge's Palace is located in the busy St. Mark's Square, which means it sees a lot of foot traffic. It isn't uncommon to see a line wrapping around the building, so book your tickets in advance, and if you can't do that, arrive right when it opens to avoid crowds. Recent visitors who reported not doing either said they waited in line upward of an hour, and subsequently didn't enjoy the attraction as much. Despite this, many commented on the beauty of the building's architecture and the artwork featured. A number of travelers also highly recommended taking a guided tour, specifically the Secret Itineraries Tour, saying the history of the building alone easily trumped the beautiful surroundings. Tours last an hour and 15 minutes and are offered in English three times a day. With the tour ticket, you'll also have unguided access to the palace. Tickets cost 20 euros (about $23.50) for adults.
A St. Mark's Square Museums ticket grants you entry into not only Doge's Palace, but the Museo Correr, Museo Archeologico Nazionale and Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana for 20 euros (about $23.50). Kids ages 6 to 14 and students 15 to 25 pay a reduced admission of 13 euros (about $15.25). From April to October, Doge's Palace is open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; from November to March, it's open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit the palace's website.
More Best Things To Do in Venice
#1 St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)
This elaborate church sits on the popular piazza by the same name. The church was built in honor of St. Mark the evangelist, whose remains were stolen from their home in Alexandria, Egypt, and hidden in barrels of pork and cabbage leaves by a couple crafty Venetians, intent on bringing him to rest in Venice.
Crafted from many different styles of architecture, today its opulence shines from nearly every corner – from the four bronze horses that guard the entrance to thousands of square feet of mosaics to the Pala d'Oro. If you look closely at the church's center gable, you can see a statue of St. Mark along with Venice's emblem: a lion with wings.
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