The Duce Palace which Became the National MuseumThis palace is in the center of Rome, north of Capitoline Hill and near Vittoriano. Although the building is now a full-time museum, it hasn’t always been so. The Venice Palace used to be here, built during the Renaissance. It was the residence of the popes and later served as the embassy of the Republic of Venice in the Holy See. This is the origin of the palace’s name. Years later, it became the main headquarters of the Duce Benito Mussolini, the Italian politician who became the leader of the National Fascist Party. He would address the people from this very place.
Today there is a museum where you can see art such as pottery, jewelry, drawings and sculptures, alongside works of art and objects in permanent exhibitions. The museum is called National Museum of Palazzo Venezia (Museo Nazionale del Palazzo Venezia).
History of Venice PalaceThe Venice Palace was built in 1455. Although the tower at the top of the palace is built in a medieval style, the palace was the first Renaissance building built in Rome. The palace was built of stones from the nearby Colosseum. This was the norm in Renaissance Rome.
The palace was built for the Venetian Cardinal Pietro Barbo, later Pope Paul II, who built the palace near the nearby Via del Corso - the main street of Rome in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. At first it served as an official residence for the popes.
During the reign of Pope Pius IV, the palace, formerly serving residential purposes, was awarded to the Republic of Venice as an embassy. During the 19th century the palace became the Embassy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the Holy See. In 1917 the ownership was transferred to the Italian government and the place became a government office.
The Duce Benito Mussolini, who was an Italian tyrant and ruler of Italy between 1922-1943, renovated the place to serve as headquarters. From the balcony facing the square he carried out his fiery speeches.