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- Prisons Courtyard (Doge's Palace) -

The Doge's Palace was also where justice was administered and where the city's terrible prisons were to be found. It wasn't that difficult to end up in jail in Venice.

At times, a single anonymous accusation was enough to be arrested, slipped into the "Mouth for secret accusations", still visible in the Hall of the Compass. The last degree of justice was exercised by the most feared tribunal: The Council of the Ten. This Commission had exceptional powers and met in absolute secrecy in what is known as the Hall of the Council of the Ten.

Here, during a trial, no-one could enter, not even the accused. The trial took place by reading statements of both the defense and accused and decisions were made by a vote that had to be an 80% majority.

Arrest could be traumatic, at times sudden and unexpected. Once in the Palace you could end up either in the ground floor cells, the Pozzi, which were harder and inhospitable, or up in the garret, for the high-ranking, the famous Piombi which owe its name to the lead sheeting covering the roofs. Once you were in there, life certainly wasn't easy.

The cells were small and damp, cold in winter and hot in summer. Once inside the prisoner had to share the little space available with dozens of other prisoners, reduced to misery by the bullying of the guards and the poor sanitary conditions. The Palace prisons were famous for being difficult to escape.