Guarding St Mark’s Square, the Palace is immediately recognisable. Its solemn architecture and the multitude of arches that support it make it a city icon. Its current appearance dates back to the 15th century XV century; previously it had been more similar to a classic mediaeval castle, because one of its functions had been as the Doge’s residence. For centuries it also served as the seat of government and as a court house, hence, throughout history, the city’s most important policy decisions took shape here. All this turns the visit inside into a real map of the functioning of the republic. If you take a guided tour, you will learn how the government was administered as you go along, although you should bear in mind that this is only available in Italian, English or French. After going through the most important rooms at political and judicial level, you come to the Piombi (The Leads) – or torture chambers and cells where prisoners of the Inquisition were held – across the Bridge of Sighs. This bridge, which crosses over one of Venice’s canals, was so named for the prisoners who crossed it and, it is said, saw the outside world for the last time.
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