Palazzo Ducale and the Bridge of Sighs

A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the Palazzo Ducale was the Doge of Venice’s palace since the old castle was built in 810. Over nearly a 1,000 years, 120 doges ruled over Venice from this palace. Inside the palace, visitors can see the impressive golden staircase called the Scala d’Oro, the Maggior Consiglio hall, which contains the world’s largest painting called “Paradise” by Tintoretto, the armoury which contains an assortment of weapons, and the Doge’s apartments, which are are beautifully decorated with works of art. Across the canal, are the prisons of the Palazzo, and the dungeons where prisoners were held.

Spanning the narrow canal (Rio di Palazzo) between the Palazzo Ducale and the prisons, is the Bridge of Sighs. This enclosed limestone bridge was built in a baroque style around 1600 by the architect Antonio Contino. It is called the “Bridge of Sighs” because men who were condemned to death, would get their last glimpse of Venice while crossing over this bridge. The best view of the bridge of sighs is from the canal, or from the Ponte della Paglia, on the Riva degli Schiavoni behind the Doge’s Palace. Tradition holds that if a couple kisses while passing underneath the bridge in a gondola, they will enjoy eternal love.


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