What to see at the Doge's Palace in Venice: timetables, prices and advice

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Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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The Doge's Palace in Venice is the famous building characterized by arches and pillars that you meet as soon as you arrive in Piazza San Marco. Impossible not to notice! With its beauty, its history and its elegance it undoubtedly contributes to making the square even more interesting and moreover it is the historic residence of the Doges of Venice and for this reason it is also one of the symbols of the city.
Here is a guide on the Doge's Palace: what to see, tips, prices and how to get there.


  1. Hours and prices
  2. Online tickets and guided tours
  3. What to see and how to visit the Doge's Palace
  4. Where is it and how to get there
  5. Useful tips for visiting the attraction
  6. Historical notes and curiosities: what to know in brief
  7. User questions and comments

Hours and prices

  • April-October from Sunday to Thursday from 8:30 to 21:00, Friday and Saturday from 8:30 to 23:00 / November-March every day from 8:30 to 19:00
  • Best time to avoid queues: between 8:30 and 10:00 and from 17:00 to closing
  • € 25,00 / € 28,00 to also follow the secret itinerary with the guide
  • Reductions: on the normal admission € 13,00 for children from 6 to 14 years, students between 15 and 25, seniors over 65 and holders of the Rolling Venice Card - € 5,50 per person for school groups / on admission to the '' secret itinerary € 15,00 for children from 6 to 14, students between 15 and 25, seniors over 65 and holders of the Rolling Venice Card
  • Free: children up to 5 years, disabled and MUVE Friend Card holders

Given the importance of the palace, the best way to visit it is with a guide or a tour, which in addition to making you skip the line (a detail not negligible if you have little time available) will make you know and appreciate the history, art, antiquities that come together in this unique and unmissable place. We recommend this online bookable guided tour.

Online tickets and guided tours

What to see and how to visit the Doge's Palace

The palace is consisting of 4 floors and divided into 7 thematic areas. On each floor there are countless rooms and also hidden doors, stairs and secret rooms that can be visited only with guided tours or by booking the special itinerary with a specialized tour guide present on site. The thematic areas are:

  • The Opera Museum
  • The Courtyard
  • The Lodges
  • The Doge's Apartment
  • The Institutional Rooms
  • the Prisons
  • the Armory

Although the visit route may seem logical starting from the courtyard and arriving at the top floor going up the floors in the order in which they are presented, the itinerary also recommended by the official website is much more complex. In fact, it follows the thematic areas and not the floors, but it has to go up and down several times. To you the choice! In any case remember that there is only one entrance, from Porta del Frumento in Piazza San Marco, and despite the broad subdivision the building is largely accessible to the disabled thanks to lifts and services located on the ground floor (toilet, bar, cloakroom, children's area).
The advice is to buy the priority ticket (starting from € 24,00) to avoid the queues, or choose a tour that includes priority entrance and a guided tour to fully appreciate all the artistic charm and history of the building.
And now here it is how to visit the Doge's Palace: the subdivision of the floors, the thematic areas in detail and the respective rooms.

1 - Museum of the Opera

It extends throughout the ground floor of the building where there was the Opera, a technical office for the maintenance of the structure. The museum it consists mainly of capitals that adorn it which, in addition to enriching the palace and being a precious decoration of sculptures, they served as historical, moral, religious and political teachings as enriched with images of men, women, children and zodiac signs. A code incomprehensible by today's society! The museum is spread over six rooms:

  1. room I: it has six capitals and respective columns of the portico facing the San Marco Basin. It is part of the oldest project of the building and here two themes meet, Solomon and Seven Wise Men and then Male Heads of Different Races.
  2. room II: it has four capitals which were originally placed on the facade facing the square. The representations are purely aimed at work, the products of the earth and astrological correspondences, in fact the theme is called The Professions.
  3. room III: with only three religious-themed capitals. The first has been called the most beautiful in Europe. The themes affixed to these capitals are called Creation of Adam, Planets and Their Domiciles and The Deadly Sins.
  4. Room IV: there are two column shafts of the portico and a mighty stone wall made of large boulders that dates back to an ancient phase of the Palace. No representations and no particular themes.
  5. Room V: two other column shafts of the portico with pointed arches and representations of lion heads.
  6. Room VI: has as many as 29 decorative capitals with a greater interest in the decorative aspect. Here the designs are mostly foliage.

2 - Courtyard

Walking through the entrance corridor of the building you arrive at the courtyard. Here style and layout are the same as on the outside, the facades, however, were made between 1485 and 1501, dating occurred through the coats of arms of the doges on the walls. In the courtyard opens the large Scala dei Giganti e from here begins the path to the upper floors, for example to the Loggias that surmount the entire courtyard which enjoy a floor entirely dedicated to them.

3 - Lodges

As already mentioned, the lodges can be reached via the Scala dei Giganti. They surround the palace from inside and outside extending over the entire floor, leaving room for smaller rooms for administration and various services such as the ducal chancellery and the library. The walls of this floor see embedded snapdragons in which complaints were introduced of various crimes that ended up in a box on the other side of the wall at the competent office. On the floor there are two main rooms:

  • The Sala dello Scrigno: inside there was the Golden Book with the names of the Venetian patricians and the Silver Book with the names of the original Venetian families;
  • The Hall of the Militia from Mar: the meeting place for the members of the Senate and the Maggior Consiglio to recruit the war crews of the Venetian fleet.

4 - Doge's apartment

This thematic area is obviously reserved for Doge's rooms between the first and second floor where the rooms of his private life and the Representation Rooms stand out. It is an artistic journey made of carved wood, stucco, monumental fireplaces, marble and finely carved decorations, to show the historical and iconographic evolution of the figure of the doge. The rooms are:

  • Hall of the Scarlatti: for the ducal councilors
  • Hall of the Shield: to receive guests
  • Grimani Room: elegant with coats of arms and decorations in honor of Doge Grimani
  • Erizzo room: contains the coat of arms of Doge Erizzo
  • Room of the Stuccos: entirely decorated with stucco
  • Hall of the Philosophers: it takes its name from twelve images of ancient philosophers that were inside
  • Hall of the Vaults: for private functions such as family banquets
  • Audience Hall: room full of winged cherubs, dolphins and lions
  • Hall of the Anti-Audience: it contains a splendid fireplace but its function has never been clarified
  • Hall of the Squires: the first room to access the doge's apartments in which the squires remained on guard

5 - Institutional Rooms

They are the rooms in which political and administrative life took place in fact, the main governing bodies of the republic met here. They have decorations that are always faithful and consistent with the virtues of the State and the functions performed and are spread over three floors:

  • First floor: Liagò, Quarantia Civil Vecchia, Sala del Guariento, Sala del Maggior Consiglio, Sala dello Scrutinio, Sala della Quarantia Criminal, Sala dei Cuoi, Hall of the Magistrate of Laws
  • Second floor: Square Atrium, Hall of the Four Doors, Hall of the Anti-College, Hall of the College, Hall of the Senate, Hall of the Council of Ten, Hall of the Compass
  • Plan of the Lodges: Sala dei Censori, Sala dell'Avogaria de Comun, Sala dello Scrigno, Sala della Milizia da Mar

6 - Prisons

They can be reached from the first floor crossing the Hall of the Magistrate of the Laws which leads to a narrow corridor. This corridor is the famous Bridge of Sighs (clearly visible from the outside) so called to refer to the sighs emanating from the prisoners as they leave the court and head towards the cell in which they would serve their sentence. Crossing the bridge, you come to another wing of the building that housed the prisons. Here you can see large, lighted and ventilated cells, thus built to improve the living conditions of the prisoners.

7 - Armory

It was the place where the various instruments of war were preserved, guarded and arranged always ready for use in case of need. It was entrusted to the care of the Council of Ten who guarded the room and protected it. Today these tools are still visible since the hall it houses a real museum of weapons and ammunition which has about 2.000 pieces despite the end of the republic many objects were lost. The museum is divided into 4 rooms:

  • room I: it is called the Sala della Gattamelata and houses the armor of the leader Erasmo de Narni plus some sixteenth-century combat specimens of various kinds
  • room II: retains a Turkish banner conquered during the battle of Lepanto and a 400th century armor with halberds and decorated swords
  • room III: here there are several cannons and the bust of Francesco Morosini, an admiral appointed commander of the Venetian fleet
  • Room IV: exhibits a large collection of mixed weapons such as crossbows, clubs, swords, traps and instruments of torture

8 - Secret Places

The secret places lurk throughout the building and can only be visited accompanied by an expert guide and by reservation. The proposed route is an itinerary that leads to the discovery of these places not visible in the normal rooms listed so far, starting from the large courtyard entering a narrow door that leads to the Pozzi, or terrible places of detention. From here you go up a narrow staircase to reach two small rooms which housed the Ducal Notary and the Deputy to the Secret of the Council of Ten. We then continue towards the great Hall of the Secret Chancellery with walls covered with wardrobes that kept public documents and secret writings of the Venetian magistrates. Finally, crossing this room you arrive at the Torture Room and the Piombi area where some cells were placed, also secret, reserved for prisoners of the Council of Ten.

Where is it and how to get there

  • On foot: 2 km from piazzale Roma, about 30 minutes on foot following the signs for Piazza San Marco and, once you arrive, cross it heading towards the sea, turn left and immediately find the entrance - Get directions
  • By vaporetto: line 1 to the Vallaresso stop - line 2 to the Giardinetti stop - line 5.1 and line 4.1 to the San Zaccaria stop (€ 7,50)
  • By gondola: it will be necessary to agree on the price with the agency or with the gondolier
  • By water taxi: also in this case the itinerary will be agreed with the driver, while the price in most cases is a standard rate

Useful tips for visiting the attraction

  1. Get up early: the ideal would be to reach the entrance by 8:00
  2. Buy the city card: Venice City Pass is the pass to access various attractions including the Doge's Palace, it also allows the use of public transport and various discounts for several days of stay
  3. Priority entrance: the best solution for the visit is a guided tour with priority entrance that allows you to save time by avoiding queues
  4. Secret Itineraries: they are secret paths that wind through some rooms. These are small spaces and steep and narrow stairs, so it is possible to visit them only from the age of 6 and without any mobility difficulties, moreover it is necessary to book a special visit with a qualified guide
  5. Minimum time: we advise you to consider a minimum of 2 hours for the visit, although the ideal would be to be able to dedicate 3 hours
  6. audioguide: in autonomy it is a very useful tool to better understand what you are observing. It costs € 5,00 and you can request it at the cashier.

Historical notes and curiosities: what to know in brief

Formerly called Palazzo Dogale as the residence of the Doge of Venice, has a history that dates back to the distant 700, when it was first built, a structure of which, however, nothing remains. About 50 years later a new site was built in the town of Metamaucum, and subsequently moved to Rivoaltus, the current area of ​​the Rialto Bridge. Finally, in 812, here is the current structure in Piazza San Marco which, despite the various fires and various renovations, undoubtedly remains one of the symbols of the city and a beautiful Venetian Gothic masterpiece.
After the age of the Doges of Venice, the Doge's Palace it has become a museum and has over one million visitors per year (approximately 1.319.527).

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