Venice, Italy

Higher Council Hall (Sala del Maggior Consiglio)

It's in the famous Higher Council Hall (or Sala del Maggior Consiglio) where up to 2000 members of the aristocracy met that the Republic showed all its magnificence. This is an impressive hall, monumental in size.

Here, all the Republic's power and glory was on show, not only because of its incredible size, but also for the inestimable value of its wall and ceiling decorations. We can just imagine the stupor and marvel the room excited in all those setting foot in it, and this was the purpose for which is was designed.

Rebuilt after the terrible 1577 fire, as a result of which the Doge Sebastiano Venier died of heartbreak, this hall was literally covered in sumptuous decoration: Veronese contributed with a splendid Deification of Venice and on the ceiling, there are works by Bassano, Palma the young, but mainly Tintoretto, author of the immense Paradise. It is the biggest oil painting in the world, a work started when Tintoretto was older and then finished by his son Domenico, it is a work in which you see the artist's typical mystic light.

On three sides of the hall, just under the ceiling's gilt decorations, there are the 76 portraits of the Doges, from the ninth, Obelerio, to the eighty-first Francesco Venier, work of Tintoretto.

They sum up the history of Venice, including the tale of Marin Faliero, the Doge accused of high treason whose portrait is covered by a black cloth.