Venice’s two most iconic buildings, St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s palace, stand side by side and are architecturally good foils for each other. The smooth repetition and harmonious, airy design and soft colors of the palace are a refreshing antidote to the busy mix of domes, arches, sculpture, and mosaics of the basilica’s façade. After admiring its exterior and getting an up-close look at the beautiful stone carving in its arcade and the outstanding example of Venetian Gothic in Porta della Carta, take a tour of the interior. Highlights are the Sala del Maggior Consiglio and its monumental oil painting by Tintoretto; Sansovino’s golden stairway of Scala d’Oro; and the many paintings by the greatest artists of their time, including Bellini, Carpaccio, Veronese, and Titian. Adjoining the palace is another Venice icon, the Bridge of Sighs, leading to the grim cells of the palace’s infamous prison. Only those on an organized tour can visit these and the chambers where prisoners were tried and condemned.