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Random bits of my life

Archive for July 8th, 2012

Doge’s Palace, Venice

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 8, 2012

Top of Giants' Staircase, Doge's Palace, Venice

The Doge’s Palace (Doge = Duke) in Piazza San Marco is always on the list of “must see” sites in Venice. The oldest parts of the palace were constructed in the fourteenth century. Many of the original sculptures and capitals have been moved to the palace museum and replaced by copies.

The palace was damaged by fire several times and rebuilt. For a detailed history of the building itself, see the Wikipedia article. These photos show the exterior of the palace, but I wasn’t able to go all the way around the building (at least not without a gondola…). The palace is quite extensive, so allow plenty of time to wander around.

The first photo was taken at the top of the Giants’ Staircase. The colossal statues, which give the staircase its name, are Mars and Neptune, representing Venice’s power by land and sea. They were carved by Jacopo Sansovino, who carved many of the sculptures of St. Mark’s basilica, in 1567.

The Giants’ Staircase was also the site where the Doge was crowned. If you look closely in the next photo, you’ll see that even the steps are carved.

Giants' Staircase, Doge's Palace, Venice

The next photo shows the staircase against the background of the palace, which rises two stories above the loggia behind the staircase. The palace is a magnificent example of Venetian Gothic architecture.

Giants' Staircase, Doge's Palace, Venice

The next photo looks directly into the Porta della Carta, originally the official entrance of the palace. The tunnel leads to St. Mark’s basilica, which appears in the upper right corner of the photo. I noticed that a lot of Italian cathedrals (Siena cathedral, for example) have magnificent coloured marble facades on their “public” sides. The sides facing other buildings are often plain red brick.

Doge's Palace, Venice

View into the courtyard of the Doge’s palace. The two round objects are cisterns.

Doge's Palace, Venice

Giants’ Staircase viewed from the side:

Doge's Palace, Venice

Courtyard of the Doge’s palace, with the dome of St. Mark’s basilica visible over the clock tower.

Doge's Palace, Venice

The clock tower (1615) is on the Secret Itinerary tour.

Doge's Palace, Venice

Courtyard surrounded by two-storey loggia:

Doge's Palace, Venice

I don’t know who this woman is. I just included her for scale. She is looking out of one of the elaborately decorated windows on the storey above the loggia.

Doge's Palace, Venice

Queen carved on a fourteenth-century capital. Probably a reproduction.

Doge's Palace, Venice

The next photo shows the Porta della Carta from the Piazza San Marco side, i.e., at the other end of the tunnel. In the carving above the lintel, Doge Francesco Foscari  kneels before the winged lion, symbol of St. Mark and of Venice. The carving is a nineteenth century work by Luigi Ferrrari, to replace the original, which was destroyed in 1797. St. Mark stands above the entrance on the Gothic pinnacle. I took the next three photos from the walkway on the outside of St. Mark’s Basilica.

Porta della Carta, Doge's Palace, Venice

“Judgement of Solomon,” carved by Giovanni Bon and his son, Bartolomeo Bon, on the northwest portico beside the Porte della Carta:

Doge's Palace, Venice

Detail of angel on the upper story of the portico:

Doge's Palace, Venice

The Doge’s Palace was not only a private residence; it also housed courtrooms and prisons and torture chambers. (The torture chambers are not open to the general public. You have to book the Secret Itinerary tour.) We did go over the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri), through the passage facing away from the lagoon.

The Bridge of Sighs, built in 1602, was named during the Romantic Period after the sighs of prisoners who were taken from the Doge’s courtrooms to the prisons on the other side of the canal. There are actually two passages over the bridge. I took this photo from a bridge over the canal.

Bridge of Sighs, Venice

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Murano, Island of Glass

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 8, 2012

Glass flowers, Murano

Murano, although thought of as an island in the Venetian lagoon, is actually a string of islands joined by bridges. Today it is best known for its glass-making. If you’re going to be in Venice for a few days, it’s worth a trip.

The photos above and below are planter boxes filled with glass flowers.

Glass flowers, Murano

Murano

IMG_4796-2.jpg

Window, Murano

Glass Sculptures, Murano

Glass Sculptures, Murano

The Santa Maria e San Donato Cathedral is one of the oldest in the area. Parts of the building date back to the seventh century. Saint Donato of Arrezo, the patron saint of the church, was a fourth century martyr. I’m sorry we didn’t think to go inside because we missed the dragon bones! Yes, there are four large bones hung on wires behind the altar, the ribs of a dragon that the saint killed by spitting. Apparently the bones are too large to be those of cattle. Here’s a photo from the blog of an English Catholic priest.

Santa Maria and San Donato Cathedral, Murano

Of course I always have to photograph a few doors and walls…

Blue Door, Murano

Most of the Murano Museum of Glass was closed for renovations when we were there last month but a few rooms were open. Below is a photo of an amazing 19th century miniature garden made entirely of glass. It was commissioned by one of the doges as a dining table centerpiece and covers an area about the size of a ping-pong table.

19th Century Glass Centerpiece, Murano

Below is a smaller glass centerpiece, of a similar date.

19th Century Glass Centerpiece, Murano

We stopped at Vetreria Rossetto Estevan to watch a lamp-working demonstration. A glass artist carefully teased a molten lump of glass into a graceful horse, reheating the glass when it cooled, to soften it. I found something funny when I did a Google search on this vetreria and found some photos on Flickr taken three years ago — different artist, same glass horses!

Glass Demonstration, Murano

Glass Demonstration, Murano

Glass Demonstration, Murano

Glass Demonstration, Murano

Glass Demonstration, Murano

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Colored Houses of Burano

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 8, 2012

Colored Houses of Burano

Is it possible to walk around Burano for the first time and not smile at the brightly colored houses? The streets look like bags of jelly beans. Murano also has brightly colored houses, but it doesn’t come close to Burano. We spent a few hours in Burano to check out the lace museum and walk around, but it wasn’t easy getting from point A to point B when I had to stop and photograph houses every few minutes. All I can say is that it’s a good thing I didn’t discovery photography in the days of film camera; I would have bankrupted my family.

Colored Houses of Burano

Green Shutters

Colored Houses of Burano

Colored Houses of Burano

Burano, Commemorative Plaque

Colored Houses of Burano

Colored Houses of Burano

Colored Houses of Burano

Colored Houses of Burano

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