Yellow Van Travels

The Doge’s Palace and Venetian Prisons

St. Mark’s Basilica is arguably the most famous site in Venice, but right next to it, actually connected to it, is the Doge’s palace, and just across from the palace via the Bridge of Sighs are the historic prisons of Venice. If you are interested in Venetian history, which you will be once you are in Venice, then these are a must see.

Title card showing the Doge's Palace in Venice


How to Get There:

Finding the Doge’s Palace is not hard once you get to St. Mark’s square. It is the building to the right when you are facing the basilica. If you come by vaporetto you can get of at either of the San Marco stops on the 1 or the 2 boat, it really doesn’t make much difference. The key to visiting the Palace though is not to stand in the line at the palace itself. Instead go to the Correr Museum across the square from the basilica. We were clued into this by the Rick Steve’s audio guide for the San Marco Square. There is never a line at this museum and the ticket for it will get you into the Correr, the two other museums attached to it, and the Doge’s Palace and prisons for just €19.

Once you have your ticket from the Correr you just go around the right side of the palace. There will be a line full of people, and an empty line. The empty line is for you because you already have tickets.

What You Will See:

Picture of the courtyard in the the Doge's Palace

Once inside you will enter the main courtyard of the Palace. When I was there I really wanted to go see the prisons so we followed the signs for them and it took as through the whole palace as well. This palace explains and is dedicated to the history of Venetian government, which is quite fascinating, at least to those of us who studied political science. Walking through the palace reminded us a lot of Versailles in Paris because there was so much gold and incredible murals, and general richness around the place. You can take as long as you want walking around here, but be aware that they close the palace at 6 PM so if you go late in the day like we did you will need to go pretty quick.

The bridge of sigs over a canal in Venice
View from inside the bridge of sighs

Just keep following the signs and you will eventually cross the Bridge of Sighs into the prisons. These are a stark contrast to the beautiful palace you have just walked through. They are thick stone walls with small rooms, double bunks in each room and tiny windows looking out into the hall. Its pretty much what you would imagine a prison being like.

picture of the hallway in the prisons of Venice

Sum Up:

The Doge’s Palace and the Venetian Prisons are some of the most important sites in Venice. They are really cool to see and have the advantage of being indoors which is nice if it is unbearably hot outside, like it was when we were there. The tickets seem a little expensive, but when you figure how many places they let you see and the fact that you are in Venice, they aren’t too bad. I would recommend going to see them if you are interested in museums or history.