Ponte dei Sospiri or the Bridge of Sighs takes its name from the sighs of the prisoners who passed through it stealing the last glimmer of freedom before entering the prisons of the Serenissima. The beautiful span, visible from the Riva degli Schiavoni, connects the Doge's Palace with the prisons built at the end of the 16th century to house petty criminals.  The Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri) overlooks the Rio di Palazzo.

The bridge is built of Istrian stone in the Baroque style.  It is a totally enclosed hanging bridge.  It was designed by Antonio Contin at the request of Doge Grimani. Many tourists consider the bridge an emblem and hymn to love as well as one of the symbols of Venice. Together with the Rialto Bridge it is one of the most famous bridges in the world.

In truth, the bridge was used by prisoners who had just been interrogated by the infamous Council of Ten, also known as the Terrible Ten. Their function was to control and repress any threat to the freedom of Venice. The fame of the Terribili Dieci (Terrible Ten) for the ferocity of their sentences became famous throughout Europe. The cells in the Palazzo delle Carceri and other minor prisons around the Doge's Palace evoke the horrors of medieval repression.