ArchitectureWhat to see

The Giants’ Staircase at the Doge’s Palace in Venice

As you visit the courtyard of the Doge’s Palace you will find yourself in front of one of the most beautiful staircases of Renaissance architecture, the Scala dei Giganti. In this article I will describe its architecture and the ceremonies that took place at the top of its steps.

Before we begin, a brief preamble: if you plan to visit the Giants’ Staircase, the courtyard, the halls and all the other rooms of the Doge’s Palace, it is strongly recommended that you buy your ticket online, because of the long queue that may form at the ticket office. By purchasing your ticket in advance, you will be able to access the Doge’s Palace by skipping the queue.

portici palazzo ducale venezia

Doge’s Palace Venice tickets: quick access

Buy online. Choose the time of your choice. Visit Venice’s Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs, prisons and more. You can cancel for free up to the day before your visit.

Scala dei Giganti: history and architecture

scala dei giganti palazzo ducale venezia

This magnificent staircase at the entrance to the palace is an excellent example of Venetian Renaissance architecture.

It was here that the Doge’s investiture ceremony took place.

During the ceremony, the nominee swore allegiance to the Republic before the head of the Council of X, which was the highest office after the doge.

The new dux in office received the zoia and the Doge’s Horn during the celebration; this headgear was to be worn at both civil and religious events.

During the ceremony, the dux ascended the top of the staircase to be visible from the loggias and the palace courtyard from all sides.

The staircase was built in the 16th century by architect Antonio Rizzo, who was also the architect of the nearby Arco Foscari, and takes its name from the two large sculptures by Sansovino that guard it on either side.

scala dei giganti palazzo ducale venezia

These large statues depict Neptune and Mars, the gods of the sea and war. The mammoth statues give the staircase a majestic and imposing appearance.

It seems that the two sculptures were commissioned of such size to diminish the figure of the Doge at his coronation, reminding him of his role as servant of the Republic.

Inside the palace, the staircase continues with its flights taking the name Scala d’Oro (Golden Staircase) for its gilded stucco ornamentation.

palazzo ducale venezia scala d'oro

The first of the five flights is dedicated to the goddess Venus, while the second leads to the doge’s flat at Neptune, representing Venice’s dominion over the sea.

Frequently asked questions

Where is the Giants’ Staircase located?

The Giants’ Staircase is located in the inner courtyard of the Doge’s Palace in Venice.

Why is the Giants’ Staircase so called?

The staircase owes its name to the two large sculptures on its sides, depicting Mars and Neptune.

Apparently their imposing size was intended to diminish the figure of the doge at the moment of investiture, making him appear smaller in the eyes of onlookers and reminding him of his role as servant of the Republic.

palazzo ducale venezia orari

Doge’s Palace Venice tickets: quick access

Buy online. Choose the time of your choice. Visit Venice’s Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs, prisons and more. You can cancel for free up to the day before your visit.

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