The Grand Canal
So called the “Canalazzo“, is the most important water way of Venice, about 3800 meters long, it splits the city in two sides...
Venice from above looks like a big fish, not bad for a city on the sea! The Grand Canal it's like a thick dark line that creates a kind of "big S" inside the fish.
By each side there are many magnificent buildings (from a period dated between XII and XVII century) that testify the richness and beauty of the art of the “Serenissima“ Republic.
This “street” was the centre of the trades of the Republic since the Middle Age. Here ships (some were over 400 tons) used to sail by: in fact, it is right on the Grand Canal that the “Fondaci” were born. They were a sort of big warehouses and inns for merchants coming from every part of the world.
There are 4 bridges crossing the Grand Canal, each built in different eras. The most recent one is the “Ponte della Costituzione” (the Constitution Bridge), known also as the “Calatrava Bridge” (from the name of the Spanish Architect who drew the project) and inaugurated on Sept. 11, 2008. It links the Train Station Area with Piazzale Roma. Right after it, there is the “Ponte degli Scalzi ("Barefoot Bridge") just in front of the Train Station. Proceeding towards Saint Mark's Square we find the Rialto Bridge, certainly the most important and famous one, once made of wood. It used to be a drawbridge that allowed the crossing of the canal to sailing ships, when Rialto was the ancient port of the city. The last bridge we meet is the Accademia Bridge, still a temporary structure made out of wood. It is a very important link between Dorsoduro and Saint Mark's district.
These four bridges are not the only way to cross the Canal Grande: a quite cheap gondola (traghetto) service takes people from one side to the other.
The Grand Canal ends in Saint Mark's where the spectacular view of the basin opens wide in front of us. On the right side the "church of Salute" and the “Punta della Dogana” (Custom Point),on the left the extraordinary view of Saint Marks’ Square, the Doge's Palace, the Basilica, and the dominating Bell Tower, so called “El paron de Casa” the master of the house.
The Grand Canal was, and still is, the most ambitious place to live. All palaces on this water way (no pedestrian access from the Canal) were built and embellished by the most important nobles families of the City. The best way (the only one !!) to see all the palaces is by water bus: sit back, relax and enjoy the splendour passing by!.