Located in St. Mark’s Square, you’ll find one of the top attractions in Venice, the Doge’s Palace. Also known as the Palazzo Ducale, the Doge’s Palace was the center of political power in Venice. From Doge’s Palace opening times to tickets, this Doge’s Palace guide will tell you everything you need to know about what is inside and its history.
Brandon’s Pro Tip: Planning a trip can be stressful. There is so much information that it’s easy to forget the little things. If you like this article, consider bookmarking this post and a few other great reads that could help reduce some of that stress:
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Doing a tour in Venice is by far the best way to visit a site like the Doge’s Palace. Local expert guides unlock insights and details that are easy to miss. Check out our small group Venice Tours.
What You Need To Know About Visiting the Doge’s Palace in Venice
- Hours & Ticket Prices
- How Long to Budget for Your Visit
- Doge’s Palace Tour Options
- History of the Doge’s Palace
- What to See at the Doge’s Palace
- Where to Eat Nearby
- How to get to the Doge’s Palace
Doge’s Palace Tickets & Hours
The Doge’s Palace is broken up into two kinds of itineraries with the regular access and the Secret Itineraries which are only run at certain times of the day by the Museum itself.
Doge’s Palace Hours: 9 am – 6 pm (last admission 5 pm)
Doge’s Palace Admission: 25€ | 14€ for ages 6-25 with student care, and +65
Admission for Secret Itineraries: 28€
How Long to Budget for Your Visit
Short Answer: 60 minutes
If you are the kind of person who just likes to get a feel for a monument, then 60 minutes is perfect to not delve too much in depth. If you prefer looking more into specifics to get to really know your way around this palace then you should set aside two hours. There are some stairs to climb up 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.
Doge’s Palace Tour Options
We highly recommend doing tours when you come to a new city. You not only gain historical and anecdotal knowledge, but you also save tons of time trying to look for things at certain sites. Plus, our guides are local and super passionate about what they do. You will find our tours are very competitively priced and our standard is fun learning, so no boring moments on our tours!
What 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 of Poseidon, representing 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 about 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 in order for them to 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 speaks about the sound prisoners would make after being sentenced for their crimes in the palace and taken over the bridge where they would get one last glimpse of the outside world looking at the lagoon and San Giorgio through the very small windows placed there.
Chamber Of Torment
A dreaded place by the accused was the Chamber of Torment. Here interrogations took place, where criminals were pulled by their arms, while these were tied behind their back. A very painful position to be questioned in. This torture would continue until the prisoner would confess to the crime committed.
The word secret is used here because it denotes areas where most prisoners were held or meetings took place which was not open to the entire council. you will visit the prison cells called Pozzi ( wells) where prisoners were literally held underground. You will 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 the rooms to be rebuilt in the Renaissance style. The decoration which you will see comes from this period and includes engraved wooden ceilings, huge marble chimneys, and delicately carved decoration with painting friezes and stuccoes.
In the prison, you’ll find the Pozzi or wells. These Pozzi 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 cells for prisoners.
Other types of cells were the Piombi. These cells were reserved for people who committed political crimes or who had to serve short period sentences. The famous Casanova was imprisoned in both types of cells for a period of time.
As the name implies, these collection of 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 which 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 they found during this period was set aside and is now preserved in the Museum or Museo dell’Opera.
Where to Eat Nearby
If you are visiting the Doge’s Palace around meal time it is important to plan out where you want to eat. If you are having a fancy meal, you probably want to reserve a table but otherwise, walks-ins are welcome in Venice.
Tuttinpiedi € – This is a street food place of the finest and is loved by the locals, too. The place is very small, in fact, “Tutti in piedi” translates to “everybody on foot”.
Cantina Canaletto €€– 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 €€– 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 €€€– At only 5 minutes walking distance from Saint Mark’s square, you find all Italian classics but refined to a next level in this, at first glance, unassuming restaurant
Want more options? Check out our article on where to eat near Doge’s Palace & St. Mark’s Square in Venice.
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How to get to the Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s Palace is very central, Follow signs for San Marco and you will find it easily.
- 30 minutes walk from Santa Lucia Train Station
- 1-minute walk from the Piazza San Marco
- 10 minutes walk from Rialto Bridge
- 40 minutes walk and boat taxi from Murano Island
The Doge’s Palace is located right next to San Marco Square where you will find the iconic St Mark’s Basilica. Most likely you will be arriving from the direction of the train station, which means that you will first cross San Marco square and just continue to the lagoon where it is pretty much impossible to miss!