Venice’s major water artery winds through marvellous palaces and slides under bridges full of charm. A fascinating combination of art and history, water and ancient trade.
The Grand Canal measuring approximately 4km in length and between 30 and 70 metres in width, follows a natural channel that traces a reverse ‘S’ course that divides the city from the north-west to the south-east, connecting various landmarks of historic, artistic and touristic interest. It is lined with sumptuous villas and palaces that either belong, or belonged in the past, to noble Venetian families and takes visitors on a trip through five centuries of history, from the 13th to the 18th centuries. It was originally a gateway to the Rialto Market, and later became the focal point of the lagoon’s mercantile life. Nowadays, it’s a symbol of the city.
The Canal is best appreciated by boat, either on a private water taxi or on the line 1 vaporetto, which departs from San Marco Vallaresso. In order to get the best view, we recommend sitting outside at the rear of the boat (the tour lasts for approximately one hour).
Midway on the Grand Canal, we find the iconic Rialto Bridge, for centuries the only means of crossing the Grand Canal on foot. This space where it stands today was formerly occupied by a number of wooden bridges that either collapsed or were damaged. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Senate of the Serenissima decided to announce a competition to finally build a stone bridge. The competition was won by Antonio Da Ponte, whose masterpiece was constructed with only a single stone arch. To enjoy a bird’s eye view of the bridge, we suggest that you head to the luxury department store Fondaco dei Tedeschi and take an elevator up to its terrace (don’t let the queues discourage you!). From here you can enjoy a breathtaking view over the Grand Canal and the roofs of the city. The view at sunset is particularly spectacular.