A favorite muse of poets and writers over the centuries, the City of Canals built on water is also known as the City of Bridges.
But who knew more than 400 bridges link Venice’s calle (streets), campi (squares) and canals?
Having gotten lost countless times wandering all over the city, we’ve set foot upon many of these Venice bridges.
Venice bridges – more than 400!
The bridges in Venice were originally made of wood; most are now stone bridges with an arch in the middle.
Bridge of Sighs
The most famous bridge in Venice – certainly the most poignant – is the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri).
Named by Lord Byron, it links the Doge’s Palace with the prisons.
When prisoners in days gone by crossed the bridge on their way to their cell or execution, they’d look out the small bridge windows at Venice for one last time – and let out a forlorn sigh.
To cross this bridge yourself, take a Doge’s Palace tour.
You’ll dive into the fascinating world of Venetian intrigue, politics and power – including learning about the “secret denunciations” letter slot, where you could tattle on someone you thought was breaking the law by slipping a note through the mouth of a sculpted lion.
Getting back to the Bridge of Sighs, legend also has it that if you kiss your honey under it at sunset, just as the bells of St. Mark’s Campanile ring, you’ll enjoy eternal love.
Dating back to 1591, the current Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) is the oldest of the four bridges that cross the Grand Canal.
We’ve crossed it more times than we can remember – especially when hunting down a particular restaurant in the area we’d heard served great food in Venice. (We never did find that restaurant.)
Shops selling leather goods and jewelry line the Rialto Bridge; we once bought some lovely glass bead earrings from a little stall.
The historic fish and vegetable market is nearby. (Go early in the morning for a more authentic experience.)
While the current Academy Bridge (Ponte dell Accademia) is one of Venice’s newer bridges (built in 1933), it is a wooden bridge with metal arches.
One of four bridges crossing the Grand Canal, it leads to one of Venice’s best museums, the Galleria dell Accademia.
Less famous bridges in Venice
Other Venice bridges are less well-known.
An intrepid photographer once walked across and photographed 100 less-seen bridges in just over 14 hours.
Recommended reading: How do you get from the Venice cruise port to Venice or the train station?
View from Venice’s gondolas
Traveling under the bridges?
Well, that’s famously done on a gondola ride in Venice.
And looking up from your gondola in the water, your view of the city changes.
In the words of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow…
“… White phantom city, whose untrodden streets are rivers, and whose pavements are the shifting shadows of the palaces and strips of sky.”
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Photo credits: 1, 7, 8 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase