From opulent rooms filled with masterpieces to sinister torture chambers, the Doge’s Palace has many secrets to reveal. Also known as the Palazzo Ducale, it was the center of political power in Venice. In this guide, find out everything you need to know about how to visit the Doge’s Palace from tickets to tours, history, what to see, and more.
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Visiting the Doge’s Palace: What We’ll Cover
You’d never guess what went on inside this palace by looking at it from the outside. With both an opulent and a dark side, the Doge’s Palace is a fascinating place to visit with an extensive history.
It’s a grand example of Venetian Gothic architecture and the interior features lavish decor and art by masters like Titian. It’s also where they tortured their enemies! Read some astounding facts about the Doge’s Palace.
In this guide, find out everything you need to know about how to visit the Doge’s Palace from tickets to tours, what to see, and where to eat nearby. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Opening hours and tickets
- How much time to budget for your visit
- How to get there
- What to see
- Guided tour options
- Where to eat nearby
Not ready to book a tour? See the best Venice tours to take and why.
Doge’s Palace Opening Hours and Tickets
Doge’s Palace offers two different ways to visit: regular access and access in a Secret Itineraries tour—only run at certain times of the day by the museum itself.
The Doge’s Palace is open every day from 9 am – 7 pm (last admission is at 6 pm). Check the official website for seasonal changes in opening hours.
Check the official website for criteria for free tickets and to book online in advance.
- Full ticket: €30
- Full Ticket purchased online 30 days in advance: €25
- Reduced ticket: €15 for ages 6-25 with student care, and +65 (€13 if purchased online 30 days in advance)
- Museum Secret Itineraries tour full ticket: €32
- Museum Secret Itineraries tour reduced ticket: €20
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our Doge’s Palace Guide for more resources.
How Long To Spend at the Doge’s Palace
Short Answer: 60 minutes
If you’re the kind of person who just likes to get a feel for a monument, then 60 minutes is perfect without going into too much detail. To really get to know your way around this palace, you should set aside 2 hours. There are some stairs to climb to different floors, but nothing too intense.
If you choose to see the Secret Itineraries, then your visit with the museum guide will last approximately 1.5 hours. I will explain this more below, but you go deeper into the prisons and see other staterooms not open to the general public.
Popular Venice Tours
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our best Venice tours to take and why.
How To Get To the Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s Palace is located right next to San Marco Square where you’ll find the iconic St. Mark’s Basilica. It’s very central, so follow the signs for San Marco and you’ll easily find it.
Most likely, you’ll be arriving from the direction of the train station, which means you’ll first cross the square and continue to the lagoon. It’s pretty much impossible to miss.
- 30-minute walk from Santa Lucia Train Station
- 1-minute walk from the Piazza San Marco
- 10-minute walk from Rialto Bridge
- 40-minute walk and boat taxi from Murano Island
Address: Palazzo Ducale San Marco
What To See at the Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s Palace was not only the residence of the ruler of Venice but also the seat of government. There is plenty to explore from gorgeous Gothic architecture to impressive works of art and the darker side of prison cells. Read more about the dark history of the Doge’s Palace.
Here’s a brief list of what to see when you visit the palace. For more detailed descriptions, some history, and images see our article on the top things to see at the Doge’s Palace.
Scala dei Giganti
When entering the Doge’s Palace, you’ll find yourself in its courtyard where you’ll see the Scala dei Giganti. At the top of the stairs, there are two statues. One is of Poseidon, which represents Venice’s coastal trade power. The second statue is a representation of Mars, symbolizing the political power of the trading empire. In between these two statues is the winged lion, the symbol of Venice’s patron saint, St. Mark.
Great Council Chamber
The Great Council Chamber inside the Doge’s Palace is one of the most amazing rooms you’ll see in Europe. Surrounded by astonishing pieces of art, this room is where the Senate would deliberate and come to agreements on financial matters and other public concerns, like the sentences for the prisoners.
One of Doge’s Palace’s artworks you’ll be able to admire in this room is Tintoretto’s Paradise. This painting is one of the largest oil paintings on canvas in history. The painting represents heaven on earth. It is said that its purpose was to look over the council so they would make appropriate decisions.
Bridge of Sighs
Another highlight of the Doge’s Palace is the Bridge of Sighs, which connects the palace to its prison. The name comes from the Romantic period and describes the sound prisoners would make after being sentenced for their crimes in the palace. As they were taken over the bridge to the prison, they would get one last glimpse of the outside world looking out over the lagoon and San Giorgio through the very small windows, eliciting sighs.
Chamber of Torment
A dreaded place by the accused was the Chamber of Torment. Here interrogations took place and criminals were pulled by their arms, while they were tied behind their backs. It’s a very painful position to be questioned in. This torture would continue until the prisoner confessed to the crime committed.
The word secret is used here because it denotes areas where most prisoners were held or meetings took place which were not open to the entire council. You’ll visit the prison cells called pozzi (wells) where prisoners were literally held underground. You’ll also visit the Deputato alla Segreta of the Council of Ten, which is where secret archives were kept.
The Doge’s Apartments
The entire area was destroyed in a fire in 1483, which allowed for the rooms to be rebuilt in the Renaissance style. The decoration you’ll see comes from this period and includes engraved wooden ceilings, huge marble chimneys, and delicately carved decorations with painting friezes and stuccoes.
In the prison, you’ll find the pozzi or wells. These were a place of detention for prisoners, and one of the worst to be in. As you can deduce from its name, these wet little cells were hardly ventilated and reeked, making them extremely miserable places for prisoners.
Other types of cells were the piombi. These cells were reserved for people who had committed political crimes or who had to serve short sentences. The famous Casanova was imprisoned in both types of cells for a period of time.
As the name implies, these rooms house various weapons used throughout the centuries. Back in the day, this is where they would have stored all the weapons that would be used by Venetian soldiers in times of war.
Today, you can find over 2,000 pieces in the exhibition including 15th and 16th-century suits of armor, along with swords, halberds, quivers, and crossbows. They also house armor and weapons of Turkish origin, which were taken during the wars against the Turks.
Starting back in the Middle Ages, there was a sort of technical office that was in charge of the maintenance of the palace. This office was called the opera.
In the mid-19th century, the palace was in such a state of disrepair that many wondered if it would survive or should just be destroyed.
In 1876, they began a restoration plan, which would involve a huge overhaul of the building. Many pieces of artwork found during this period were set aside and are now preserved in the museum or Museo dell’Opera.
Doge’s Palace Tour Options
If you’re interested in the darker side of Venice’s history, it doesn’t get much darker than the Doge’s Palace. For a tour with the Doge’s Palace, we recommend our top-rated skip-the-line tour with St. Mark’s, the Doge’s Palace, and a gondola ride.
You also have the option of a private Doge’s Palace tour if you’d prefer a more customized experience. If you’re looking to see the best of Venice (and some hidden gems), why not join our Venice Day tour?
Our tours come with skip-the-line tickets and very passionate local guides that will add historical depth and fun to your experience of Venice.
See both of Venice’s top St. Mark’s Square attractions in this 3.5-hour tour with skip-the-line tickets and a gondola ride. You’ll start at the impressive basilica where you’ll see the tomb of St. Mark.
Next, explore a little of Venice’s darker history at the Doge’s Palace. You’ll see the original dungeon cells, the famous Bridge of Sighs, and all the exquisite art, of course. Cap it all off with a 30-minute gondola ride on the canals to see Venice from the water. This is a great way to experience the highlights of Venice in a short amount of time.
If you’re looking to see as much of the Floating City as you can in a day, the Venice day tour is for you. You’ll get to see both St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace with skip-the-line tickets and a guide who knows all about these fascinating attractions and their rich history and art.
You’ll then head out on a gondola ride because you can’t really come all the way to Venice and not see the city from its famous canals! After lunch, rejoin your group to explore the islands of Murano and Burano. This is a great way to see a bit more of Venice than most do in a day.
The Doge’s Palace is a top attraction in Venice for good reason. With its Gothic architecture, exquisite art and features, and its darker history, it’s a fascinating place to visit on a more intimate tour with a passionate expert guide.
You’ll explore the beautiful exterior, lavish Golden Staircase, and art before heading to the darker side of the Doge’s Palace. From the original dungeon cells to the famous Bridge of Sighs, you’ll see where many prisoners were tortured and where they got their last glimpse of freedom.
You can visit the Doge’s Palace in our 6-hour Venice In A Day tour along with St. Mark’s Basilica, Rialto Bridge, and hidden areas of Venice. If you’re in Venice for a short time, this is a great way to see the city’s top sights and experience the history and culture in a day with a local guide.
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our Doge’s Palace Guide for more resources.
Places To Eat Nearby
The Doge’s Palace is in a popular area of Venice, so if you want to eat nearby, it’s important to plan out where you want to eat. Here are a few suggestions. For more options, check out our article on the best places to eat near the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Square.
Cantina Canaletto: €€ | Outdoor Seating–A streetside restaurant a 4 minutes walk from Saint Mark’s square, is in fact located in the neighborhood of Castello. This place is a true gem, offering simple but highly qualitative dishes from all of the 20 regions in Italy, for a reasonable price.
Antico Martini: €€ | Long History–This historic restaurant has been welcoming guests from all over the world since 1720. Specialties in this restaurant include the black truffle pasta and the celery and coriander fish soup.
La Caravella: €€€ | Lovely Garden Setting–Just a 5-minute walk from St. Mark’s Square, you’ll find all the Italian classics but refined to the next level here.
Not ready to book a tour? Check out the best Venice tours to take and why.