Your first stop on this half day tour will be St Mark’s Square, home to the awe-inspiring St Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace. Stopping here for a few minutes, your guide will give you a brief introduction on the surrounding buildings that make up the square and some information on the Basilica’s façade before entering the building itself.
Once inside, the beauty of the gold mosaics on the walls and ceilings as well as the marble mosaics on the floor are a sight to behold. At the far end, underneath the gold altar, is the crypt of St Mark where his relics are said to be stored after being smuggled to Venice from Alexandria in 828 AD.
Next, you will visit the Doge’s Palace. A wonderful example of high Venetian Gothic architecture, the palace was the principle residence of the leader of the Venetian Republic as well as the seat of government, law courts and prison. Exploring with your guide, you’ll see the main halls of justice, adorned with work by artists such as Titian and Veronese before moving into some of the lesser known, secret areas that are not normally accessible.
The keeper of the keys will open a locked door, allowing your guide to take you deeper into the heart of the palace to see a selection of specially reserved sections including the prison cells where Casanova was once confined before making a daring escape, along with the torture chambers and administrative offices. You’ll also get the opportunity to pass across the infamous Bridge of Sighs that connected the interrogation rooms within the Doge’s Palace to the prison complex, so called, as it was considered to offer prisoners their last view of the outside world before being incarcerated.
Please be aware that this tour involves a number of steps and narrow corridors as you will be exploring the more secret areas of the palace. It is not recommended for those with mobility problems or for anyone particularly claustrophobic.