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  • Writer's pictureFrancesca Ramsay, MA

A Brief History of the Palazzo delle Prigioni in Venice

What is Palazzo delle Prigioni?

Palazzo delle Prigioni is an innovative cultural centre located in one of Venice’s former prisons, previously known as the Prigioni Nuove (New Prison).


Palazzo delle Prigioni

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Palazzo delle Prigioni History

The Palazzo delle Prigioni is sure to give you shivers down your spine. As you wander this 16th-century Venetian prison, noticing the graffiti and other frenzied marks left by prisoners long dead, it’s hard not to imagine what it must have been like to be incarcerated in one of its cold and gloomy rooms. Built by Giovanni Antonio Rusconi, Antonio da Ponte and his nephews Antonio and Tommaso Contino, it was one of three sites of incarceration in Venice – the other two at the very top and bottom of the Palazzo Ducale (or Doge’s Palace). The Palazzo delle Prigioni was actually built to improve conditions for the state’s prisoners. We’ll let you be the judge of that!


The Palazzo delle Prigioni is now an exciting and diverse cultural centre used for exhibitions, concerts and cultural events run by the Circolo Artistico di Venezia. If you have the chance, try to book seats for a concert or music recital in this unusual and atmospheric venue, or simply visit it and soak in the building’s unsettling history.


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