Venice is known for its romantic atmosphere and impressive architecture. It is called the city on water, and this description is given not by chance, as the buildings which together form islands, literally float on water. The islands are connected by more than 400 bridges of different dimensions, styles, and materials. In this article you will explore the most famous and important ones, which you just can’t miss when visiting Venice.
Admire the beauty of Ponte degli Scalzi
Ponte degli Scalzi, which literally translated means “bridge of the barefoot ”, is the first bridge you will see once you leave the Venice Train Station. It connects the two city areas: Santa Croce and Cannaregio, separated by the Grand Canal. It was built in 1856, but due to the criticism received, it was reconstructed in 1934 by the architect Eugenio Miozzi. Thus, the metal construction in industrial style was replaced by an elegant arched bridge made of stone.
There are two versions that explain why it was named the “bridge of the barefoot ”. The first one says, that it is related to the Church of the Barefoot or Discalced Monks, which is located in close proximity to the bridge. According to the second version, the bridge received this name due to the beggars. A large number of them lived near the bridge, passing over it while barefoot.
Explore the history of one of the oldest bridges in Venice!
The next bridge you’ll see, if you follow the Grand Canal, will be the Rialto Bridge. It is one of the oldest, and most famous bridges in Venice, built in the narrowest part of the canal. Constructed in 1181, it was initially named Ponte della Moneta, probably because of the mint, which was located not far from the bridge. In 1255, a new bridge was built, which received the name of the market located on the eastern bank – Rialto. Being made of wood, it didn’t last long, and was further replaced by a stone bridge, designed by Antonio da Ponte. Since 1591 it has remained relatively intact, so today you can admire this architectural icon of Venice, knowing the appearance hasn’t changed over the past 425 years.
Cross the famous Ponte dell’Accademia!
Ponte dell’Accademia is the southernmost bridge from the list of bridges that span the Grand Canal. It connects St. Mark’s Square with the Galleria dell’Accademia (Accademia Gallery), which is well-known for its great collection of paintings from famous artists, such as Tintoretto, Tiziano, and Veronese. The bridge was planned to be constructed in 1488, but because of the lack of financial resources it was built in 1854. The architect Alfred Neville decided to make it of metal, but the project received a lot of criticism, as this material seemed to be too modern for that area of Venice. In 1933, it was replaced by a wooden bridge designed by Eugenio Miozzi, which was intended to be a temporary one. Although the design of a stone bridge existed, and despite hopes that it would compliment the architectural ambience much better, the l Ponte dell’Accademia has preserved its pristine wooden structure. After 50 years, it was replaced by a new copy of the bridge, as the previous one was already in very bad condition. By the way, this bridge offers the best views of the Grand Canal either way, so it’s a wonderful place to take really great pictures.
Marvell at Ponte della Paglia!
Ponte della Paglia, which translated means the “Straw Bridge”, is considered to be one of the most beautiful bridges in Venice. It was built in 1360, and reconstructed in the 19th century. The bridge is not only a historical sight, but it also connects the Castello District and San Marco areas.
The name “Straw Bridge” was given to it, because it was a place for boats that were mooring close by, and loaded, as you already understood, with straw. Because of the possible outbreak of fires, there are centuries-old ordinances that prohibit such practices.
The bridge is the perfect spot, from which you can admire and photograph the famous Bridge of Sighs, but this is also one of the reasons why it can sometimes be extremely congested.
Kiss under the Ponte dei Sospiri!
The last, but not the least, is the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri). This small but picturesque bridge, made in baroque style, connects the Doge’s Palace - the former courtroom with a prison. The legend says, that the convicts, escorted from the Doge’s Palace interrogation rooms, were passing over this bridge before entering the grim prison building. No wonder that sad sighs escaped from their chests when they took their last glance at the beautiful city. Later, one more legend appeared saying that if lovers, while gliding in a gondola, will kiss at sunset under the bridge, their love will last forever. So why not use this beautiful legend as a good occasion to create an amazing lifetime memory?
Easily reach all the bridges!
If you want to see all the bridges, you can either reach them by foot, by vaporetto (boat), or a gondola. The cheapest, easiest, and most comfortable way to navigate the Grand Canal is by boat: lines number 1 and 2. The difference is in time, as line number 1 stops at all boat stops, which as a consequence makes the trip longer, while line number 2 is faster, but usually more crowded. Both lines start from the Santa Lucia Railway Station, with the last station being Piazza San Marco.
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