Overlooking the Venetian Lagoon from Piazza San Marco , you will see a pink marble structure designed like intricately woven lace with graceful white pinnacles and arched windows. This delicate yet remarkable structure is the famed Doge’s Palace , also known as Palazzo Ducale of Venice. Ranked 2nd amongst the Top 10 Things To Do In Venice by TripAdvisor 2018, the Doge's Palace was the historic seat of the La Serenissima, the Venetian Republic and sheathes secrets that have rarely left the walls of the Palace.
The Doge's Palace
Every detail of the Palazzo Ducale was designed to impress, from the extravagant decor in the Hall of the Great Council to the knobs of the prison cells it houses. It is one of Italy's most coveted tourist sites with an annual turnover of over 1.3 million visitors. Situated right next to St. Mark's Basilica, the 4 walls of this pink marble structure sums up the history of the La Serenissima; from its political affairs, to its military triumphs, the life of the royal and the artistic hand of Venice. When in Venice, this one's ought to top your list!
Doge's Palace Skip the Line - Priority Access Guided Tour ✪
April 1st to October 31st
Everyday 8.30 AM – 7:00 PM (last admission 6:00 PM) November 1st to March 31st
Everyday 8.30 AM – 5.30 PM (last admission 4.30 PM)
Doge's Palace, Piazza San Marco, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy
Quick Jumplinks to Navigate the Guide
- The Doges Of Venice
- The Doge's Palace - A Brief History
- Doge's Palace Interiors - What to see?
- Puerta della Carta
- Foscari Arch
- Giant Staircase (Scala dei Giganti)
- Golden Staircase (Scala d'Oro)
- Chamber of the Council of Ten (Sala del Maggior Consiglio)
- Courtrooms (Sala del Magistrato alle Leggi)
- Chambers of the Doge (Appartamento Ducale)
- Armory room (Armeria di Palazzo)
- Secret rooms (Stanze segrete)
- New Prison and Bridge of Sighs (Prigione Nuovo and Ponte dei Sospiri)
- Doge's Palace Tickets
- Doge's Palace Reviews
- Doge's Palace - Practical Information
- Doge's Palace - Insider Tips
The Doges of Venice
Who is a Doge? The first thing that probably comes to your mind when you hear, Doge’s Palace. Doge is Venetian Italian for “Duke” derived from Latin Dux which translates to “leader”. The Office of Doge first emerged with Paolo Lucio Anafesto, the first Doge of Venice in the 8th century during the Byzantine Empire and was an integral ruling body in the La Serenissima till the 18th century.
Know the Doges of Venice
Through a millennium, 120 doges ruled the Venetian Republic, some successful in exerting political influence and others not so much. Before visiting the Doge’s Palace, it is only natural that you’d like to know a little about the Doge's who lived in there. Here are a few interesting tidbits about the Doges of Venice.
- Francesco Foscari , elected in 1423 reigned for 34 years making him the Doge who held his position for the longest period
- Francesco Cornaro the 101st Doge on the other hand was the Doge who reigned for the shortest period of 35 days.
- Enrico Dandolo, the 41st Doge is considered the most famous and loved Doge. He was a vision impaired yet led the contingent for the Sack of Constantinople at 90 years of age. He is all the more renowned for his role in the Fourth Crusade which freed Venice from the shackles of Greek Byzantine Empire.
- Marin Faliero, the 55th Doge was elected in 1354 at the age of 76 and remains the only Doge to have been arrested and beheaded for treason. His plot for revolvting against the ruling patricians and subsquent tragic death has inspired several important literary works, like 'Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice' , a blank verse tragedy in five acts by Lord Byron.
- Ludovico Manin was last Doge of Venice and was abdicated when Napoleon arrived in Venice in 1797 thus putting an end to the thousand-year tradition.
The Doge's Palace - A Brief History
Until 810, the seat of venetian power was in the Island of Malamocco, the present day Rialto. Doge Agnello Participazio, the 10th Doge of the Venetian Republic who was ruling during this period decided to move the seat of venetian power to a dedicated ‘Ducale’ ( palace) for the governing body.
This 9th century Doge’s Palace looked nothing like it does today. It was a wooden palace that was reduced to ash in a fire and then reconstructed under the leadership of Doge Bartolomeo Gradenigo in 1340 to the way we see it today. Note, this construction took over a century and a half.
The Doge’s Palace in its pink Vernon marble and white Istrian stone design is considered a coherent hodgepodge of Byzantine and Gothic architecture, along with traces of Late Renaissance architecture. The Palazzo Ducale of today is the prodigy of great Venetian architects like Filippo Calendario, Mauro Codussi, Antonio Rizzo, Andrea Palladio, Giovanni Bon and Bartolomeo Bon adorned with paintings of Tintoretto, Titian, and Veronese who have bedizened the extravagant interiors with their works of art.
In 1923, the Doge’s Palace opened doors to public viewing and has been a museum since run by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.
Doge’s Palace Interior - What to see ?
The interiors of Doge’s palace scream opulency. Ornate furnishings, Venetian art pieces and lavish rooms are all a sight behold. This palace houses administrative offices, judicial chambers, the Doge’s private apartments, ballrooms, courtyards, grand stairways, and prisons in its ground floor.
Puerta della Carta
The flamboyant Gothic styled main entrance of the Doge’s Palace designed by Giovanni Bon and Bartolomeo Bon is bound to leave you mesmerised before even stepping foot into the Palace.Puerta della Carta which translates to "Paper Gate" is the entrance gate between the Doge's Palace and St Mark's Basilic with a sculpt of Francesco Foscari ( the ruling Doge during its construction ) kneeling before the Lion of St. Mark perched on top of the grand entrance.
Once you enter through the Porta della Carta, you will see a a beautiful triumphal arch adorning scuplts of Adam and Eve. This Gothic spired arch was designed by Antonio Rizzo and is a fine piece of art.
Giant Staircase (Scala dei Giganti)
From the coutyard, you will see a godly stretch of serpentining stairs called the Giant's Staircase built by the famous Sansovino. It is flanked by statues of two huge statues of Mars and Neptune symbolizing Venice's authority over land and sea.
Golden Staircase (Scala d'Oro)
Gilded with gold , this lavish staircase was built over a period of 29 years so as to provide a grand entrance to the dignitaries and magistrates visiting the Doge's Apartment on the upper floor.
Chamber of the Council of Ten (Sala del Maggior Consiglio)
This is the grandest and largest room in the Doge’s Palace, measuring nearly the entire length of the southern facade with a capacity of holding around 1000 individuals at a time. The Sala del Maggior Consiglio is where Venetian patrician families gathered to discuss matters regarding the Republic. Though the Doge was considered the leader of the Venetian Republic, he was not allowed to make decisions without the approval of the Council of Ten. Consiglio dei Dieci ( Council of Ten) is said to have been set up after 1310, Bajamonte Tiepolo along with other noblemen tried to overthrow the state. The Council of Ten was formed to support the Doge and were an constitution of 10 ultra-powerful influential Venetians who held power on par with the Doge. Democracy is said to have been practised within these 4 walls long before the political term made its way to the Oxford dictionary. In this room, you will catch a glimpse of fading frescos of the first 76 Doge’s of Venice , except that of the infamous Marin Faliero. However, the most impressive decor here is the Tintoretto’s painting called “Paradiso” , the world’s largest canvas painting.
Courtrooms (Sala del Magistrato alle Leggi)
Since Italy had its own legislative system, the Doge’s Palace has its own courtrooms where laws were made, reformed and discarded. Here you can lay your eyes on a beautiful triptych of Hieronymus Bosch.
Chambers of the Doge (Appartamento Ducale)
The personal space of the Doge might seem small and humble, but it was kept this way for a reason. Though he held authoritative power, he was a minister of the state. Hence, he had to maintain simplicity. In the Doge’s Chamber you will see a collection of land cards that shows the actual size of the Venetian Republic. You will also see two giant world globes that show how the 18th century worldview.
Armory room (Armeria di Palazzo)
Since Venice was dominating the maritime trade routes in Europe, the Doge’s Palace had a stock of ammunition to deter any threats. This was stored in the armory room and today we can see an array of arms and ammunition that was used then. You will find swords, crossbows and harnesses, and the most innovative of all, the “Devil’s chest”. This is a unique ammunition that you are not likely to have seen elsewhere. It is a booby trap of 4 guns and poisonous arrows that will blow open the attacked persons chest.
Secret rooms (Stanze segrete)
There are many secret rooms in the Doge’s palace which were basically interrogation rooms and cells. The smaller cells built under lead roofs which housed criminals were called “pozzi” and the more comfortable cells which housed pristine prisoners were called “piombi”. Legend goes that Casanova escaped from one of these piombis.
New Prison and Bridge of Sighs (Prigione Nuovo and Ponte dei Sospiri)
When the Rialto Bridge was constructed, a decision was made to shift the prison cells from the Doge’s palace to an adjacent building on the opposite side of the canal. In order to transfer the criminals from the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace to the new prison, a bridge was constructed and named the Bridge of Sighs. The dark name of the bridge slingshotted it to fame very soon after its construction. Apparently, the prisoners were catching their last glimpse of beautiful Venice before crossing over to the other side and all they could do was sigh, hence the name.
Doge's Palace Tickets
Doge's Palace Skip the Line Tickets
• Skip the 45-minute line and gain priority access to the Doge's Palace
• Get your hands on an excellent Guidebook with details of Doge’s Palace, Basilica, Saint Mark’s Square
• Gain access to any 3 museums / 10 museums of your choice apart from Doge's Palace with this very ticket.
Doge's Palace Priority Access Guided Tour
• Rush past the 45-minute line outside Doge's Palace and save precious time and energy
• Guided tour with our exemplary guide who will rest assured grasp and retain your attention through the course of your visit
• Explore the Museo Correr, Museo Archeologico Nazionale and Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana with this very pass.
Doge's Palace & St. Mark's Basilica Priority Access Guided Tour
• Skip the line + Guided Tour of the 2 most important buildings in Venice.
• Explore the Museo Correr, Museo Archeologico Nazionale and Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana) with the same ticket.
• Gain a complimentary coupon for an optional trip to Murano Island and back.
Venice Museum Pass + Skip the Line ticket to Doge's Palace Tickets
• Jump the 45-minute queue at Doge's Palace and a handy guidebook
• Buy one pass and walk into 10 museums around Venice carefree - Save Money, Save Energy, Save Time
• Visit museums of 10 different genres; from lace to glass to books to textile museums
St. Mark's City Pass + Priority Access to Doge's Palace
• Skip the Line access to Doge's Palace
• Skip the Line access to any 3 museums in Venice
• Skip the Line access to any 3 churches on the Chorus Circuit • Access to to Querini Stampalia Foundation
• Audio guided tour of Teatro La Fenice
• Access to Venice Casino
Doge's Palace Reviews
This was a highlight of our trip . Fabulous place ,stunning paintings .You can cross the bridge of sighs to the prison . Its 20 euro entrance fee . No q at 09.00am . Very nice café inside .
If you want a feel for Venice hundreds of years ago, then this is a must. The building is fabulous, the paintings are wonderful. I would highly reccomend an Audio Guide or a Guided tour, as simply looking and walking around, you will not understand the importance of this place.
Read what others have to say about the Doge's Palace here.
Doge's Palace - Practical Information
Open Hours and Timings
1st April to 31st October(Peak Season)
8:30 AM to 7:00 PM, with the last visitors allowed at 6:00 PM
1st November to 31st March(Off season)
8:30 AM to 5:30 PM, with the last visitors allowed at 4:30 PM
On December 25st and January 1nd, the Doge's Palace remains closed.
Reaching Doge's Palace by Public Vaporetto
If you are taking line #1 and get off at “San Marco Vallaresso”. If you are taking line #2 and get off at “San Marco Giardinetti”. After you alight, walk to Saint Mark’s Square. Once here, look for the Bell Tower and diagonal to it you will find the Doge's Palace
Reaching Doge's Palace by Private Watertaxi
Ask the driver to take you to the “Todaro” landing stage. Once you alight, walk to Saint Mark’s Square. Once here, look for the Bell Tower and diagonal to it you will find St. Mark's Basilica
Reaching Doge's Palace on Foot
Reaching the St. Mark's Square is fairly easy. Look for the tall Bell Tower once you are here and diagonal to it you will find the St Mark's Basilica.
Doge's Palace - Insider Tips
- The best time to visit the Doge's Palace in the morning soon after it opens, preferably on weekdays. This helps you beat the crowd and queues.
- Photography is not allowed in most rooms, flash photography specially is strictly prohibited.
- Last admission is one hour before the closing time. Plan to spend atleast 2 hours inside the Palace for a fulfilling visit.
- There is a quite a bit of walking involved, so be sure to strap on a pair of comfortable footwear.
- The secret itineraries tour is highly recommended for gaining access to rooms that are not a part of the usual guided tour. You should consider booking your tickets online as their daily timings are slightly different.
- An economical deal would be buying the Museum Pass which will give you access to the Doge’s Palace and 10 other museums in Venice or the St. Mark's City Pass which gives you access to the Doge's Palace along with a selection of churches, museums and more.
- It is highly recommended that you visit the Bookshop and Cafe inside the Doge's Palace.
- While the Doge's Palace is fully wheelchair accessible, the Secret Itineraries Tour, New Prisons and Armoury Room are not wheelchair accessible. Do take this into consideration while booking your tickets.