Doge’s Palace “Prisons & Tyranny” Tour in Venice

Skip the line at Doge’s Palace and explore Venice’s shocking history and tales of famous prisoners

Travel Flexibly 5 / 5 See All 77 Reviews · 2.00h 18 max · Venice, Italy

Want to see a darker side of Venice’s history? It doesn’t get much darker than the Doge’s Palace. This Secret Itineraries tour takes you to all the hidden corners of this beautiful Gothic building, where Venice’s rulers once controlled the city with an iron fist. You’ll see torture chambers and the prisons where famous Venetians like Casanova were held, as well as the infamous Bridge of Sighs. Along the way, you’ll learn about the palace’s shocking history from your expert guide.

Tour Details
  • Skip the line at Doge's Palace
  • St. Mark’s Square
  • Doge’s Palace's Gothic architecture
  • The Palace Courtyard
  • The Giant Staircase
  • The Golden Staircase
  • The Great Council Chamber
  • Prison cells and torture chambers
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • Discover the palace's secrets

You’ll meet your super-knowledgeable local guide in St. Marks Square, just a short stroll from Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale). After admiring the architecture from the outside, you’ll skip the line and enter the magnificent gothic palace. Once inside, your guide will tell stories of crime, betrayal, and how it was once the center of power for the Venetian Republic.

Alongside beautiful features such as the Golden Staircase and the paintings of Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese, you’ll explore its darker side as you visit the torture chamber, prison cells, and the haunting Bridge of Sighs.

Doge’s Palace Tour Description

Your 2-hour small-group tour includes:

  • Skip-the-line entry to Doge's Palace

  • See famous artwork and the Golden Staircase

  • Visit the cells, torture chambers, and Bridge of Sighs

  • A passionate, English-speaking guide

  • Maximum group size of 18

Learn the Doge's Palace's History

Construction of the present-day Doge's Palace began around 1340, and the various wings of this Gothic masterpiece took over 150 years to complete. Your guide is a true Venetian expert, and they'll tell the stories behind its construction, including the major fires that almost threw it off course. You'll also learn about the rise of Venice and how this became the seat of power for the Venetian Republic's ruthless rulers.

Sitting next to St. Mark's Basilica, the palace was built to house the Doge—Venice's chief magistrate and leader of the republic.

Inside the Doge's Palace

The interior of the Doge's Palace is grand to say the least. Inside you’ll find marble fireplaces, friezes and stucco adorning the walls. Some works of art stand out over the rest, including iconic pieces by Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese, and your guide will explain the stories and interpretations behind the art. You'll also pass through the awe-inspiring Great Council Chamber, which is one of the largest rooms in Europe and the place where the most important decisions were discussed.

One of the palace's most impressive features is the Golden Staircase, considered the most valuable staircase ever built. It connects the first floor of the palace to the third, where the Doge's offices were located. Your guide will show you the grand offices from which Venice was ruled for centuries, including the rooms that housed the powerful Council of Ten—the city's governing body.

Prison Cells and Torture Chambers

The methods used by Venice's rulers to impose their law have gone down in history for their cruelty and brutality. You'll visit the bleak prison cells (piombi) and tiny detention rooms (pozzi) that still contain drawings and messages from the thousands prisoners who passed through this place. Your guide will tell you some of the stories of these people, how they came to be here, and the fates they suffered. Perhaps the most famous prisoner to have been held here, Casanova's presumed cell is located here as well, and you'll learn a little about the man behind the myth.

The most chilling feature you'll visit in Doge's Palace is certainly the Chamber of Torment—the torture chamber where many of the most brutal interrogations took place. Your guide will explain some of the methods used in this nightmarish place.

Bridge of Sighs

Linking the palace to the prison cells, you'll cross the infamous Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri). Prisoners walked across this enclosed bridge before spending years or even the remainder of their lives behind bars. If that wasn’t enough to sigh about, look out from the small windows carved into the bridge that once offered convicts their last glimpse of beautiful Venice. That's plenty to sigh about. 

What you get with this tour
Skip-the-line entry to Doge's Palace
See famous artwork and the Golden Staircase
Visit the cells, torture chambers, and Bridge of Sighs
A passionate, English-speaking guide
Maximum group size of 18
Tripadvisor Logo
See what people are saying

77 total reviews

Leave a review
5.0/5 (based on 77 reviews)
5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 stars
5 plus stars
23 September 2022
J
Reviewed by
Jacki Bastin

Roberta and her ‘story telling’ and history knowledge was outstanding . The Doge palace is a fascinating place. Roberta did an excellent job of providing background information on Venice and its historical past! She was passionate about her history -and very engaging . Def top rating for Roberta and the tour

22 September 2022
J
Reviewed by
Jeanne Linton

Wonderful, patient and knowledgeable gentleman who was very entertaining!

Nice tour
21 September 2022
S
Reviewed by
Scott Skinner

Marco our tour guy was friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. Will book again.

show more reviews

Frequently Asked Questions

Where to meet?

Between the two big columns in St. Mark’s Square (columns of San Marco & San Teodoro) located on the south side of the square, near the canal. Our friendly representative will be there holding a sign with our company name on it. Please arrive 15 minutes early to check in.

What to bring?

We recommend bringing comfortable walking shoes, a camera, and a water bottle. Large bags and backpacks are not allowed and will have to be checked before entering the Doge's Palace. It's best to leave them at your hotel if possible.

Where to meet?

Between the two big columns in St. Mark’s Square (columns of San Marco & San Teodoro) located on the south side of the square, near the canal. Our friendly representative will be there holding a sign with our company name on it. Please arrive 15 minutes early to check in.

What to bring?

We recommend bringing comfortable walking shoes, a camera, and a water bottle. Large bags and backpacks are not allowed and will have to be checked before entering the Doge's Palace. It's best to leave them at your hotel if possible.

What if I have concerns about my mobility on this tour?

Although you won't be walking a huge distance on this tour, you will be on your feet for 2 hours. The floors are uneven in places and there are some narrow passageways inside. If you have any doubts about your mobility, we suggest taking a Private Doge's Palace tour so your needs can be better accommodated.

Total: as low as $61.70

available days discounted days

24-hr cancellation on group tours! Learn more about our cancellation policy

Reserve Now $68.56 as low as $61.70
$68.56 as low as $61.70
You may also like
Skip the Line
Up to 15 % off

Skip the Line

Venice in a Day Combo Tour with Gondola Ride

Explore St. Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace, Rialto Bridge, and hidden areas of Venice

Guided Tour
Up to 15 % off

Guided Tour

Venice Local Evening Food Tour in Cannaregio

Experience the authentic food and wine of Venice with a local foodie tour

Skip the Line
Up to 10 % off

Skip the Line

St. Mark's Basilica and Venice City Tour with Gondola Ride

See the best of Venice and enjoy a classic gondola ride in just a few hours

Private Tour

Private Tour

Hidden Canals - Private Venice Boat Tour

Discover the Hidden Gems of Venice by Boat

Covid Test

Covid Test

Venice Rapid/Antigen Covid-19 Test

Reserve your travel-certified Covid-19 test online today

Boat Tour
Up to 5 % off

Boat Tour

Murano and Burano in a Half Day Boat Tour

Easily explore these colorful Venetian islands and see traditional glassblowing and lacemaking

New Tour
Up to 10 % off

New Tour

Hidden Venice Tour with Secret Gardens and Grand Canal Boat Cruise

Uncover authentic Venice through its hidden canals and see local life on a Cannaregio walking tour

Skip the Line

Skip the Line

Private Venice Highlights Tour with Gondola Ride

2.5 Hours of Sightseeing in Venice, Italy

Skip the Line

Skip the Line

Venice Discovery Private Tour

Private Skip the Line Venice Tour

Private Tour

Private Tour

Venice Islands Adventure

Visit Venice's Islands Murano and Burano

Skip the Line

Skip the Line

Venice Doge's Palace Private Tour

Skip the Line Doge's Palace Tickets

Skip the Line
Up to 10 % off

Skip the Line

Exclusive Access St. Mark’s Basilica Night Tour with Underground Crypts

As the only group inside, experience the magic of St. Mark’s Basilica by entering after it closes