A view of the "Scala dei Giganti" (stairway of giants) part of the inner courtyard of the "Palazzo Ducale di Venezia". AP Photo/Luigi Costantini

The gothic palace in St. Mark's Square housed the city's top official, the Doge, when Venice was the capital of an independent and powerful republic.

The museum that now preserves the palace said Thursday that experts had restored the facades overlooking an internal courtyard and the adjoining Church of St. Nicholas.

During the work on what was the Doge's private church, water infiltration was repaired and cleaners brought to light traces of gold plating, colored marble and paint which originally decorated the whole palace.

The restoration began in 2007 and cost nearly €2.5 million, or $3.6 million. Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.


A view of an inner courtyard of the "Palazzo Ducale di Venezia" palace in Venice, northern Italy, during a press preview to announce the completion of the first phase of restoration work, Thursday Jan. 14, 2010. In background at center the "Scala dei Giganti" stairway, part of the restoration effort. According to historic accounts, the palace was mostly constructed between the 14th and 15th centuries and was the residence of the ruler of Venice, the Doge di Venezia. AP Photo/Luigi Costantini