SECRETS OF THE DOGES PALACE

SECRETS OF THE DOGES PALACE

The Doges Palace dominates Venice in more ways than one. The building is stunning, lining one side of Saint Mark’s Square and boasting a very striking design. It has dominated the history of Venice too – since it was the seat of the Doge, and center of power for the city’s leader until Napoleon arrived. Therefore, it has quite possibly seen it all. Now a museum, the Doges Palace can share its secrets! Here are just some of them

The Doges Palace dominates Venice in more ways than one. The building is stunning, lining one side of Saint Mark’s Square and boasting a very striking design. It has dominated the history of Venice too – since it was the seat of the Doge, and center of power for the city’s leader until Napoleon arrived. Therefore, it has quite possibly seen it all. Now a museum, the Doges Palace can share its secrets! Here are just some of them:

The public rooms are as ornate as you would expect, but there’s another side to the Palace.

Some parts of the palace are accessible to the public and are very ornate – a symbol of Venice’s position in the world. However, some areas are hidden. Secret doors lead off from the opulent public rooms to dark and windowless corridors. It’s here, in these simple, secret rooms that Venetian justice and order were maintained. The city’s chancellor dished out sentences of incarceration, beheadings or torture to the accused from these rooms, usually following a period of interrogation. Torture could be physical or mental. Those sentenced to imprisonment would walk across the Bridge of Sighs on their way to the cells.

Doges Palace, seat of the Doge and the beating heart of Venetian business, administration and justice.

The Bridge of Sighs

This is an enclosed bridge that connects the interrogation rooms in the Palace to the prisons. From here, prisoners would glimpse their last sight of the city and freedom before reaching the prison – hence the name.

The Bridge of Sighs – so called, as this is where prisoners caught their last sight of freedom.

There are mailboxes situated around the building, in the shape of a lion’s mouth, where citizens could submit information on neighbors thought to be violating the law.

These mailboxes were marked ‘Per Denontie Segrete’ and literally anyone who thought another citizen was up to no good, could put a name on a piece of paper and slip it into the lion’s mouth. Accusations were always investigated. The mighty ‘council of ten’, who operated from within the Doges Palace held sway over the city’s affairs, sometimes tried the accused. Sentences were harsh – the death penalty was without appeal, for instance.

Credit: Commons Wikipedia

The mailboxes where citizens could post notes to the authorities that snitched on their neighbors!

The Palace’s prison

As you might expect with all these stories of secret councils and secret letterboxes, it’s no surprise that the palace had its very own prison. You can still visit part of it today. The cells date back from the 12th Century. The prison was expanded in the 13th century onwards and at one stage occupied the lower floor of the Palace. You can still see the graffiti etched on the walls by the inmates who suffered really poor conditions – including the extremes of weather and flooding, which must have been quite terrifying.


Credit: Commons Wikipedia

The prisons of the Doges Palace, Venice, which once occupied the lower floor of the Palace.

So – now you know some of the Palace’s secrets, here are some top tips for planning your visit:

Top tips:

The Doges Palace is popular, so there will be lines. Try to visit with a guide, as they will have ‘skip the line’ tickets, saving you a long wait!

The guide will also tell you about the Palace’s full story, things you don’t necessarily get from a guidebook. It will make your visit richer and you’ll get more from it.

Some of the interior is off limits for photography, so you really have to go see it for yourself.

Explore the Doges Palace with Venice Events.

Venice Events is the Italian sightseeing expert – offering tours of many of Italy’s beautiful towns, cities and attractions – including the Doges Palace, and other buildings in Saint Mark’s Square. Visit our website at veniceevents.com for full details, our professional guides would love to show you around our city and its treasures.

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Happy travels, from the team at Venice Events.