The Courtyard and Giants’ Staircase of the Palazzo Ducale

Doge’s Palace, also known as Palazzo Ducale, is an iconic landmark at the heart of Venice, Italy.

Built over several centuries, it served as the Doge’s residence, the Venetian Republic’s highest authority, and a symbol of the city’s political and cultural power.

The Courtyard and Giants’ Staircase of the Palazzo Ducale are two of the most important things to admire while visiting Doge’s Palace

These two picturesque monuments hold centuries of history and have been the backdrop for many of the city’s most momentous occasions.

Doge’s Palace Courtyard

The Doge’s Palace has a big courtyard in the middle.

When you enter the palace through the Porta del Frumento, you can see the Piazzetta wing on your left and the Renaissance wing on your right.

The part of the courtyard on the top is blocked off by the area where the palace and St. Mark’s Basilica meet.

This place used to be the chapel for the ruler called the Doge.

In the center of the courtyard are two wells that were built in the mid-16th century.

The Giants’ Staircase is used for formal entrances.

It is guarded by two colossal statues of Mars and Neptune, representing Venice’s power by land and sea.

The rounded arch dedicated to Doge Francesco Foscari (1423-1457) is made of Istrian stone and red Verona marble.

It links the Giants’ Staircase to the Porta della Carta, which is the exit from the palace.

Giants’ Staircase of Doge’s Palace

The Golden Staircase, or Scala d’Oro in Italian, is one of the world’s most elegant and beautiful staircases.

Its name comes from the classical, Roman-style decoration featuring white and gold stucco.

This staircase leads to the doge’s apartment of honor and private apartments, as well as Atrium Square and the palace’s heart.

From either side of this magnificent staircase, you can enjoy views of the Doge’s Palace Courtyard and the Rio de la Canonica, which is crossed by the Bridge of Sighs.

It is famous for being the starting point for all grand parades held in honor of visiting dignitaries to the medieval kingdom, during which the staircase was built.

The top of the stairwell was also used to crown any new doge.


The staircase’s artistic decoration is also noteworthy, showcasing the exquisite craftsmanship of the Venetian Renaissance.

The niello patterns and bas-reliefs that adorn the staircase are intricate and detailed, representing scenes from Venetian history and mythology. 

Later, two marble sculptures of Neptune and Mars were added to the staircase to symbolize Venice’s commercial and military power. 

Overall, the Giants’ Staircase became a symbol of the Republic and the demand for allegiance, love, and respect for the state.

Its beauty and grandeur continue to captivate visitors, reminding us of the importance of cultural heritage and the role of architecture in shaping our history and identity.

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Legends Associated with it

The two statues of Mars and Neptune were built so big to make the Doge look small at his coronation.

This was a reminder that the Doge was a man like other men and could be punished.

This story adds a spooky, exciting feeling to the beautiful, magical staircase.

The Loggias

When you visit the Doge’s Palace, you’ll start in the Renaissance wing.

You’ll climb the Censors’ Staircase to the Gold Staircase, will take you to the upper floors.

These floors used to be where the government offices were.

On your way, you’ll see two special plaques. One is from 1362 and has fancy writing.

It was made when Pope Urban V was in charge. The plaque says that if you give money or help to prisoners, you’ll get special blessings called indulgences.

The other plaque was made by an artist named Alessandro Vittoria. It’s near the Giants’ Staircase and you’ll see it better at the end of your visit.

This plaque celebrates the visit of King Henri III of France to Venice in 1574.

💡 Traveler’s Advice

Come and explore the history of Venice like never before and be sure to purchase your Doge’s Palace ticket!

Admission to the Doge’s Palace: Doge’s Palace entry ticket
Avoid long queues at reach straight for the Doge’s Palace: Doge’s Palace skip the line ticket

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Featured Image: Palazzoducale.visitmuve.it

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