When a canal becomes a street, a bridge is the only way to cross the road without using a boat. This pretty much describes the situation in Venice, one of the most fascinating cities in the world.
This city in northeastern Italy was built on a total of 118 islands which are interconnected by over 400 bridges over 177 canals. Some of these fascinating bridges have become icons of the city as well.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most famous bridges in Venice, structures that you simply have to see when you visit this remarkable place.
1. Ponte di Rialto Bridge
The Ponte di Rialto or Rialto Bridge is without a doubt the most famous in Venice. It’s the oldest of just 4 bridges spanning the Grand Canal in the city and was originally established as a simple pontoon bridge in the year 1173.
It has been rebuilt several times throughout its history and the current structure was completed between 1588 and 1591. It’s one of the main tourist attractions in the city. It consists of a single arch connected to a central portico. Both ramps leading up to this portico are lined with shops.
2. Ponte dei Sospiri
The Ponte dei Spospiri or Bridge of Sighs is one of the most infamous bridges in all of Venice. It earned its remarkable name because connects the New Prison in the city with the interrogation room of the Doge’s Palace while crossing the small Rio di Palazzo.
This means the small windows in the bridge were the last moment that prisoners saw the canals of Venice before being sent to the prison. The bridge was built in the year 1600 and was constructed with white limestone. It was designed by Antonia Contino, the nephew of Antonio da Ponte who designed the Rialto Bridge.
3. Ponte dell’Accademia
The Ponte dell’Accademia was named for the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, an art academy which was housed nearby between 1807 and 2004. Today, only the Gallerie dell’Accademia, one of the main art museums in the city is located at its southern end.
It’s another of the 4 bridges that span the Grand Canal of the city and is located in the southern part of Venice. The original steel bridge was completed in the year 1854 but was remarkably replaced by the wood-and-metal bridge you can find here today in 1933.
4. Ponte degli Scalzi
Ponte degli Scalzi translates to “Bridge of the Barefoot” and is located just near the Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia, the railway station that connects Venice to the rest of Italy and Europe. Just east of the train station and just west of the bridge you can find the Santa Maria di Nazareth Church, also known as “Chiesa degli Scalzi.”
It’s another stone arch bridge that replaced an iron bridge that was built during the Austrian reign in Venice during the 19th century. The bridge was completed in 1934 and is another bridge that spans the Grand Canal in Venice, and the first one you’ll come across if you arrive in the city by train.
5. Ponte dei Tre Archi
The Ponte dei Tre Archi translates to “Bridge of Three Arches” and this is a reference to the design of this structure. It spans the Canareggio Canal, one of the main waterways in the northern part of the city. This makes it not only one of the most famous bridges in Venice but also one of the most important ones.
The bridge is located in the same district as the Ponte degli Scalzi and can be found just north of the train station in the city. The bridge was designed during the Baroque era and was completed in the year 1681. It’s the only remaining bridge in Venice that features 3 arches.
6. Ponte delle Guglie
The Ponte delle Guglie is the other bridge that spans the Canareggio Canal in northern Venice and is much older than its neighbor. The original wooden bridge that was located in this location was completed during the Middle Ages in the year 1285.
This wooden structure was replaced by a stone and brick building in the year 1580 and was renovated several times during the 17th century. It was eventually completely rebuilt to the structure you see today in 1823. The name of the bridge translates to the “Bridge of Spires” and it’s the only bridge with this feature in Venice.
7. Ponte della Paglia
The Ponte della Paglia is one of the most famous bridges in Venice because it was the first stone bridge to be built in the city. This original bridge was completed in the year 1360 but was completely rebuilt t its current design in 1847.
The bridge is located in the southern part of the city, right next to the Doge’s Palace. It’s the best of only 2 spots in the city to view the nearby Bridge of Sighs which spans the narrow Rio di Palazzo just north of it. The Piazza San Marco and the Basilica San Marco featuring St Mark’s Campanile are located just nearby as well.
8. Ponte del Paradiso
The Ponte del Paradiso can be found in the utmost center of the city known as the Castello district. It crosses the narrow Rio del Mondo Novo. It’s a remarkable structure because it’s constructed almost exclusively from Istrian stone bricks.
One side of the bridge features a remarkable arch that leads into the Calle del Paradiso, a picturesque alley featuring overhanging wooden eaves. The arch features a sculpture of the Madonna and is therefore also referred to as the “Madonna Arch.”
9. Ponte della Costituzione
The Ponte della Costituzione is the fourth bridge that spans the Grand Canal in Venice and the most recent one as well. It’s located in the western part of the city and just south of the railway station of Venice, connecting the Stazione di Santa Lucia to Piazzale Roma.
The bridge was constructed in 2007 and put in place in 2008, officially opening to the public on the night of September 11 of that year. The bridge was built to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Italian constitution in the year 2008. It was designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava which is why it’s commonly referred to as the Calatrava Bridge.
10. Ponte della Libertà
So how does one reach the city of Venice by car or by train, right? The answer is the Ponte della Libertà, a road bridge that connects the city of Venice to mainland Italy. It has a total length of 3,850 meters (2.39 miles) and was constructed using bricks and concrete.
The bridge was built between 1931 and 1933 and was officially opened by Benito Mussolini that year. It’s the only road through which the city of Venice can be accessed from the mainland and enters the city near the Piazzale Roma and train station. The Venice Railroad Bridge runs right along with it as well.