This month, visitors to Venice can discover the sinister side to the city’s history thanks to a major new exhibition titled “Venice Secrets. Crime and Justice”. The exhibition is set in Palazzo Zaguri, an important palace in Sestiere San Marco that re-opened last month after an ambitious two-year, five million euro restoration.

Staged across five floors and 25,000 square metres of the sprawling palazzo, the show leads visitors on a gory itinerary divided into four sections: “Justice and Torture”, “Prisons and Prisoners”, “The Capital Executions Rite” and “The Inquisition and Holy Office”.

Curated by a prestigious committee of historians, criminologists and experts from Venice’s State Archives, the exhibition features hundreds of original artefacts, death machines and torture instruments drawn from museums and private collections.  It also includes a number of plastinated cadavers and real human organs, displayed in a reconstructed anatomy theatre that testifies to the way in which bodies of people condemned to death were often used for anatomy studies in Venice and Padua.

Alongside these gruesome exhibits, the show includes over 60 original documents exhibited to the world for the very first time, recalling tales of Venetian crimes and penalties such as the case of Doge Francesco Foscari, the tragic end of Carmagnola, and the imprisonment of legendary lothario Giacomo Casanova.

Combining dramatic stage sets, historical costumes and interactive displays, the exhibition is a must-see for anyone interested in uncovering the shady secrets of Venice’s dark and mysterious past.

Venice Secrets. Crime & Justice” is on view at Palazzo Zaguri, Campo San Maurizio, until 1st May 2018.