Doge’s Palace – Exploring the Palazzo, Venice

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Last Updated on January 13, 2023 by Suzy

The Doge’s Palace in Venice costs quite a fair bit to get in. Is it worth it? Read on for my review. I remember going to Doge’s Palace as a child and being wowed by the gold and painted ceilings. I don’t remember crossing the Bridge of Sighs, nor do I remember the prison. But I do remember that it was somewhere I wanted to take Jamie. I didn’t take cost into consideration, a visit to the Doge’s Palace does not come cheap!

REVIEW Doge’s Palace Venice

Although we had to queue to get in to pay we didn’t wait more than 20 minutes. We arrived first thing at 8:20 am. Once the ticket office was open the queue went down quite rapidly but not as fast as the pre-booked queue. They had plenty of desks open to pay.

Most of the original Doge’s Palace was built in the 14th and 15th Century. The prisons that are linked to the Palace by the Bridge of Sighs were built in the second half of the 1600s.

The Courtyard

The decoration and various building materials used within the courtyard inside the Palace are simply stunning. There’s so much to see and look at within the square. My favourite was the grand staircase with the huge statues at the top.

Grand Staircase in the main outdoor courtyard of the Palace
Doge's Palace - Exploring the Palazzo
More of the courtyard
Doge's Palace - Exploring the Palazzo

On this level, there are a few small rooms to explore. We were a bit concerned that was about it for our visit as aside from the stunning courtyard and a few small rooms we couldn’t see where else to go. But there was so much more awaiting us. I was even questioning what I’d remembered seeing before. Basically, you have to find the staircase up for the rest of your visit.

Doge's Palace - Exploring the Palazzo
Exploring the Doges Palace

After finding the staircase up we were met with the most stunning interior staircase with beautiful paintings on the ceiling. This was very popular with the photographers. We were quite glad we were one of the first people up as it was already getting quite busy.

Doge's Palace - Exploring the Palazzo
The stunning painted staircase

Doge’s Apartment Rooms and Institutional Chambers

What then follows is many rooms full of beautiful gold ceilings and walls covered in hundreds of Renaissance art paintings. I was in my element. Even our son seemed to appreciate that this was something out of the ordinary. He was amazed that someone could paint that well.

It was nice that in most rooms it was easy to seek out further information on which artists painted what. These are the Doge’s apartment rooms. After this comes the even more impressive Institutional chambers. You can find works by Bellini, Titian and many more.

Doge's Palace - Exploring the Palazzo
Doges apartment rooms
Doge's Palace - Exploring the Palazzo
The stunning Institutional Chambers

It was lovely to be able to just sit and take it in, especially with all the staircases you have to walk up and down.

The Prison at the Doge’s Palace

After exploring more apartment rooms you cross over the Bridge of Sighs, on the side opposite to the Grand Canal. It’s said to be called this because this is where the prisoners would stop and sigh as they took their last look of beautiful Venice.

Doge's Palace - Exploring the Palazzo
Walking down to the Bridge of Sighs to cross into the prisons

After a trip to the prisons, I can understand why. My goodness, what a depressing place this must have been to spend your time. Most of the cells have no windows at all. The doors are tiny and there is hardly any light.

Doge's Palace - Exploring the Palazzo
The tiny doorways and cells with little light

It feels incredibly spooky and haunted. There is a lot of prisoner graffiti on the walls to look at including a small exhibition.

Doge's Palace - Exploring the Palazzo
Graffiti from the prisoners many years ago

Jamie loved exploring here. It was like no prison we’d visited before with him. There is a staircase down that you can take to extend your visit to the prison. This also leads to a small exercise courtyard for the prisoners, equally small and depressing.

Doge's Palace - Exploring the Palazzo
Exercise Yard

After the prisons, you cross back over to the Doges Palace via the Bridge of Sighs that looks out over the Grand Canal and all the tourists taking photos on the bridge.

Doge's Palace - Exploring the Palazzo
View from the Bridge of Sighs

You then exit via the bookshop, café and back into the courtyard. Jamie did a great job of spotting this amazing statue on the walls as we made our exit.

Doge's Palace - Exploring the Palazzo

So was it worth the entrance fee? Yes, it was. Sure it’s expensive but so is most of Venice. Plus we hadn’t realised that we also could have visited 3 other museums with our ticket. We spent quite a few hours here and Jamie seemed to enjoy himself. It was nice to do something different to our normal family days out. Culture is certainly something all kids should be exposed to, especially when it involves history.

Doge’s Palace – Visitor Information

Let’s start with a Top tip – If you want to beat the queues then you can buy your ticket online in advance. We didn’t realise but the ticket you buy actually allows you into 3 other museums. It is not cheaper to book online but it does mean you won’t have to join the queues to pay on the day. I won’t lie to you though you will still have to queue but that’s a good thing as they are busy checking everyone and also their bags.

We paid 20,00 euros each and Jamie was free. Children under 6 are free. Those aged 6-25, senior citizens and special card holders are just 13,00 euros each. They also offer tours at an additional cost.

The museum is open 8:30 am-7 pm. With a later opening of 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. There is a toilet, café and bookshop onsite.

Doge’s Palace is next to St Mark’s Basilica. The entrance is around the front opposite the Grand Canal. When we walked there at 8:15 am on Sunday the square was virtually empty.

Doge's Palace - Exploring the Palazzo
Walking to Doges Palace early morning

Other Venice-related posts are: Venice 15 Must Do’s With Kids – Top Tips, Venice with Kids – A Family Holiday or Not? and Venice Vaporetto Waterbus – Recommendations and Tips.

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