The Golden Staircase (La Scala d'Oro)
The name of the Golden Staircase is due to the rich decoration of the vault in white stucco and 24-carat gold, upon which Alessandro Vittoria began work in 1557; the frescoed compartments in the decoration are by Giambattista Franco. Commissioned from the architect Jacopp Snasovino in 1555 by the Doge Andrea Gritti, whose armorial bearings can be seen on the large archway, the Staircase was finally completed by Scarpignaro in 1559. This was the ceremonial staircase that led up to the Doge's apartments and to the chambers in which the main bodies of state government met. Its sumptuous entranceway is surmounted by two marble sculptures; on the right, Atlas bearing up the Vault of the Heavens; on the left Hercules Slaying the Hydra. Both are the work of Tiziano Aspetti (16th century).
The first ramp of the staircase is dedicated to Venus - an allusion to Venice's conquest of the island of Cyprus, birthplace of the goddess. The stairs then fork into two ramps. The one on the right leads towards the Doge's apartments and is decorated with motifs referring to Neptune and thus Venice's mastery over the seas. In both cases, mythology is put to the service of the Republic and its celebration of itself.