The prisons of the Doge’s Palace

Le prigioni di Palazzo Ducale

Bridge of Sighs

The visit to the Prisons begins with a small downhill staircase that leads from the Hall of the Magistrate to the Laws leads into a narrow corridor that is nothing more than one of the two crossings of the famous Bridge of Sighs.

The Bridge of Sighs was built in 1614 to join the Doge’s Palace to the adjacent building destined for the New Prisons. Closed and covered, it consists of two corridors separated by a wall.

One connects the Prisons to the Halls of the Magistrate to the Laws and the Forty Criminal on the main floor of the Doge’s Palace; the other connects the Prisons with the Halls of Avogaria and the Parlatory.

Both corridors are also connected to the service staircase that rises from the Pozzi up to the Piombi.The famous nickname “bridge of sighs” dates back to the romantic era, and refers to the sigh of the prisoner who, leaving the court of Palazzo, crosses the canal crossing the bridge to reach the cell in which he will serve his sentence and can just glimpse, through the small windows, the lagoon, St. George, freedom. From the bridge you can access the New Prisons.

The New Prisons

The Doge’s Palace, home to all government institutions in the Republic, including those of justice, also housed places of punishment and detention. Starting from the second half of the sixteenth century, it was decided to build a new building beyond the Rio di Palazzo, completely intended for prison functions, with rooms for the use of the magistrates of Notte al Criminal.

The construction of these New Prisons, connected to the Palace with the subsequent construction of the Bridge of Sighs, was designed to improve the living conditions of prisoners with larger, illuminated and aired cells.Despite this, some sections of the new prisons did not seem to respond to this intent, and particularly critical is the liveability of the structured sectors with a patrol corridor along the four sides and the groups of cells arranged inwards of the building. 

The cells of the New Prisons

Each cell was lined, according to tradition, with glass wood boards crossed and thickly nailed along the walls, on the floor and on the vault. The New Prisons represent for the time when one of the first examples, if not the first in Europe, of isolated block construction, unifunctional, destined for state prison. 

After visiting the first floor of the prisons you can immediately return to the Bridge of Sighs, or also visit the two floors below and the courtyard of the prisons; then follow some cells in which a collection of ceramics from different archaeological excavations in the area has been placed, arranged along the route that connects again to the bridge of sighs and, beyond, to the Hall of censors.


BUY ONLINE the entrance ticket to Palazzo Ducale and the integrated route of St. Mark’s Square: CLICK HERE

A single ticket valid for: Doge’s Palace, Correr Museum, National Archaeological Museum, Monumental Rooms of the Marciana National Library.
The ticket is valid for 3 months and allows only one entrance to the Doge’s Palace and the integrated route.

Full ticket: 25.00 euros

Reduced ticket: 13.00 euros Children from 6 to 14 years; students aged 15 to 25; escorts (max. 2) groups of at least 15 children or students; over 65 years; staff of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (MiBACT); Rolling Venice Card Holders; F. membersA.The.

Free entry: Residents and born in the Municipality of Venice; Member States I.C.Or.M.; children from 0 to 5 years; disabled person with accompanying person; tour guides** enabled by the province of Venice and tourist interpreters accompanying groups or individual visitors; for each group of at least 15 people, 1 free admission (with reservation only); teachers accompanying school groups, up to a maximum of 2 per group; volunteers of the Civil Service; ordinary MUVE partners; MUVE Friend Card holders, owners of The Cultivist card (plus three escorts).

Family offer: reduced ticket for all members, for families consisting of two adults and at least one boy (from 6 to 14 years old).

School Offer: 5.50 euros per person (valid in the period 1 September – 15 March) for classes of students of all levels, accompanied by their teachers, with a list of names compiled by the institute to which they belong.

Audio guide (can only be purchased at the ticket office): 5 euros (for 1 person), 8 euros (for 2 people).


Piazzetta San Marco
1Opened every day from 9.30 am to 6.00 pm (last admission at 5.00 pm)- Closed 1/1 and 25/12
Tel. 041 271 59 11
Linee Actv 1 -2-5.1-5.2 – S. Marco / S. Zaccaria

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Le prigioni di Palazzo Ducale