Welcome to this post that looks at some of the most famous bridges in Venice.
The historic city centre of Venice stands on 121 islands connected by bridges.
These bridges allow Venetian people and tourists to basically go everywhere without getting on a boat every time and get from one side of Venice to the other.
But to answer one question many visitors ask: how many bridges does Venice have? Well, in total, there are 435 public and private bridges. That’s a lot, right?
Walking on top of these ancient bridges is a unique experience and will take you back in time, to the glorious Serenissima Republic era of Venice.
Bridges in Venice
In this post, you’ll learn more about some of the most beautiful and famous bridges in Venice, a bit of their history and some secret legends or curiosities about them.
Famous Venice Bridges Map
The most famous bridge in Venice is Rialto Bridge which is located in the San Polo neighbourhood. The rest of the bridges I recommend visiting are scattered all around the city in the Dorsoduro, San Marco and Cannaregio districts.
The Constitution Bridge or Calatrava is located in the Santa Croce neighbourhood and is connecting the railway station, Santa Lucia, to Piazzale Roma.
Famous Bridges in Venice
The list I have collated below contains 9 famous bridges in Venice that you should most definitely visit during your time here!
The Rialto Bridge is probably the most famous and photographed bridge in the whole city. It’s also the oldest bridge of the city. It was the first bridge that allowed people to cross the Grand Canal.
Originally the Rialto Bridge was a pontoon bridge and it dates back to the year 1173. It was called Ponte della Moneta (Coin Bridge), because it was located a few steps from the Mint of Venice.
When the population of the city began to grow and the Rialto market developing, a wooden bridge was built, quite similar to the current one. In 1444, it collapsed due to the weight of hundreds of spectators attending the royal wedding of Marquis of Ferrara that was being held on the Grand Canal.
As a consequence, a new stone bridge was designed in 1591 by Andrea Da Ponte, which is the same that we can see today. In the past, there were two rows of small artisan shops today turned into souvenir shops.
Ponte della Libertà
The Ponte della Libertà is the bridge connecting Venice to the mainland. This is one of the longest bridges in Italy and at the time of its construction, in the whole world! In fact, the bridge is more than 4 kilometres long and 20 meters wide.
The new motorway was inaugurated on April 25, 1933, with the name of ‘Ponte Littorio’, by the princes of Piedmont Umberto and Maria José in the presence of Benito Mussolini. Previously it was only a railway bridge.
Thanks to this bridge it’s possible to get to Venice by train, by bus and by car whereas in the past, it was only accessible by boat. At the end of the Second World War, it was renamed with its current name in memory of the liberation from Nazi fascism.
Ponte degli Scalzi
Arriving from Santa Lucia railway station, the Ponte degli Scalzi is a stone arch bridge that you’ll spot by looking to your left. It’s one of the few bridges crossing the Grand Canal.
Its name derives from the nearby Church of Santa Maria di Nazareth, also known as the Church of the Scalzi, where the masses were held by the Order of Discalced Carmelites.
It was first built in 1858 by Alfred Neville when the city was under Austrian rule. It was designed following an ‘industrial’ style and built in cast iron. Since it was considered inconsistent with the style of Venice, it was then rebuilt in 1932 using Istrian stone.
Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is the second most popular bridge of Venice. It dates back to the 17th century and was built with Istrian stone and Baroque style.
The Bridge of Sighs was built to connect the Doge’s Palace with the new prison system. Prisoners generally crossed this bridge to get sentenced and this was probably the last time they could see the Venetian lagoon, behind the bridge’s grates.
The legend says that the bridge has been named Bridge of Sighs because of the last sad sighs that the prisoners were taking looking at Venice after their final sentence.
It is also considered the most romantic bridge in Venice and thousands of people take a photo or selfie every day from the nearby Ponte della Paglia. The luckiest ones can visit it with a gondola ride or cross it from the inside thanks to this guided tour of the Doge’s Palace.
The Accademia Bridge is one of the only four bridges spanning the Grand Canal. From here you can admire incredible views of the famous canal, beautiful palaces and the stunning dome of the Santa Maria della Salute Basilica.
It’s been named ‘Accademia’ for the nearby Accademia delle Belle Arti di Venezia, housed in the Scuola della Carità and for the Gallerie dell’Accademia, a Venetian art museum you can visit today.
The bridge we can see today has been built in 1933 and in just 37 days! It was replacing a previous iron bridge built by the Austrians to shorten the connection between the railway station to St. Mark’s Square.
The iron bridge, like the Ponte degli Scalzi, was designed by the architect Alfred Neville in ‘industrial’ style which Venetian people didn’t like as in contrast with the urban landscape. Since it was also showing some signs of failure and static problems, it was substituted by the wooden one that we can see today.
Ponte della Paglia
The Ponte della Paglia (Straw Bridge) crosses the canal Rio di Palazzo and is so called because boats carrying straw used to moor nearby.
This is the bridge from where tens of tourists every day take pictures of the Bridge of Sighs, but it’s also one of the best ones from where you can admire incredible views of the Venetian lagoon and Santa Maria della Salute Basilica.
The best time is the sunset which will certainly surprise you with its colours. It was built in the 1847, but its original structure dates back to the year 1360, making of this bridge the oldest stone one in Venice.
Ponte dei Pugni
The Ponte dei Pugni (Bridge of Fists) is based in the Dorsoduro district and spans the canal of Rio di San Barnaba. It’s not one of the most famous bridges but it’s worth the mention for its story.
The Ponte dei Pugni was the first place where the two rival clans, Nicolotti and Castellani, clashed with bare hands. According to tradition, the winner was the clan that managed to throw all the opponents into the canal.
These fights became illegal in 1705, as they were often extremely violent. If you’re around here, you should still be able to see the fighters’ footprints left on the floor at the time.
Constitution or Calatrava Bridge
The Ponte della Costituzione is one of the most famous modern bridges in the world. It’s also known as Ponte Calatrava because its designer was the architect Santiago Calatrava.
The bridge has an iron structure with floors and railings in glass, Istrian stone and trachyte and a brass handrail.
This bridge has a single arch which is 81 meters long and a height from the water of 10 meters. This is also why it’s often called the ‘glass bridge of Venice’.
The current bridge was inaugurated in 2008. The name ‘Bridge of the Constitution’ derives from the fact that the bridge was inaugurated on the 60th anniversary of the Italian Constitution by the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano. The bridge connects Piazzale Roma to Santa Lucia railway station.
Ponte delle Guglie
The actual Ponte delle Guglie dates back to the year 1823, but the first one was built in 1285 and spans the Cannaregio canal, in the homonymous neighbourhood of the city. The bridge presents a spiral-shaped decoration from where its name derives.
More recently the bridge has been adjusted to allow disabled people to cross it too. You’ll notice that this bridge is particularly busy during the day as it connects the area of Piazzale Roma and Santa Lucia railway station to Rialto and St. Mark’s Square.
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Bridges in Venice FAQ Guide
Here are some questions people ask about the bridges in Venice:
Famous Bridges in Venice
So here’s a list of the most famous bridges in Venice and where to find them.
These are the ones I suggest including in your itinerary and the ones worth visiting, in particular, if you’re a first-time visitor.
If you need even more inspiration on what to do during your time in Venice, check out my 3 days in Venice itinerary post, it’s full of my local tips and hidden gems!
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