Could you imagine how many bridges are in Venice?
The most famous bridges in the world are in Venice. From Rialto bridge to the Bridge of Sighs, in Venice there are a number of scenic bridges that make the city iconic.
In this article, not only we'll discover how many the Venetian bridges are, but also we'll discover which are the most important and curious ones that are now crossing more than 150 canals.
Would you like to know our special ranking?
Let's start with some general (and amazing) info!
How many bridges are there in Venice?
Could you imagine the actual number of the bridges spanning the canals of Venice?
To give you a hint, just consider that there are approximately 116 little islands that create the main part of Venice. All this given, could you estimate how many canals? They are 150! This makes Venice a city truly built on water.
Additionally, if we consider that some of the canals are of consistent importance, like the Grand Canal with its 4 bridges, there are more than 300 bridges in Venice.
391, to be precise, among which 300 stone bridges, 60 metal and 57 wooden ones (the most famous is certainly the Accademia bridge).
It's not a record, however. Cities like Amsterdam or Hamburg have many more.
Anyway, the magic of Venice and its iconic canals is something you can hardly forget. For this reason, it is difficult to imagine that many years ago the city looked all different. Want to know how?
Bridges in Venice: a quick history
Now you can see that bridges in Venice are arched and made of stone, wood or metal.
This is very different from the city of the past.
The beginning: wooden bridges
Venice has a pretty recent history. At the very beginning, bridges were flat and made of wood.
At the time, they had to be flat, instead of arched, because they had to let the passage of carriages and horses, and not just people.
Even the Rialto bridge (Ponte di Rialto), actually the first bridge ever built on the Grand Canal, has been a temporary wooden bridge for years (see its history here).
All had to change because of the increasing importance of the Rialto market area.
From wood to stone: the example of Rialto bridge over the Grand Canal
The city began to change around the XVI century when Venetians understood the great importance of its canals as a way of transfer. For this reason, instead of wooden bridges, they started to build arched and stone ones.
This was the beginning of a new area, when Venice discovered its role as a maritime power across the Mediterranean Sea.
Which is the first stone bridge ever built in Venice?
The first bridge ever built in Venice should be some wooden construction in the Rialto area, when the government of the city was transferred from Malamocco to Rialto in 813.
The building of the first stone bridge, however, occurred much later, at the time of Doge Pietro Sardonico, in a place close to San Zaccaria church (as the Diarii of Marino Sanudo are telling us).
For some others, the first stone bridge is located close to San Barnaba church in the XIV century.
It is said that the oldest bridge still existing is located in the Rialto area and connects the Fish market to Ristorante Poste Vecie.
The most famous bridges of Venice: from the greatest to the most curious ones
The Rialto bridge connects San Polo to San Marco Sestiere. It is the most famous building over the Grand Canal. However, there are other 3 great bridges spanning this canal.
Over the Grand Canal: Scalzi, Constitution and Accademia bridge
The first ones you see at your arrival would be the Scalzi bridge (Ponte degli Scalzi), just in front of the Santa Lucia rail station, and the Constitution bridge (or Calatrava bridge) connecting Piazzale Roma to the station.
The third one is the Academy bridge (or Accademia bridge), a wooden bridge connecting Dorsoduro Sestiere with San Marco. To discover more about these four bridges, please check out the related article!
The most famous and iconic bridge of the city
Among the symbols of Venice, Bridge of sighs is one of the most famous ones.
It was built in the XVII century and it connects the Doge's Palace (Venice's seat of government) with the prisons.
So now it's clear the reason behind the name: people crossing that bridge were sighing as they were going to prison and supposed to see the sunlight ever again.
You may contemplate the bridge from the Ponte della Paglia on Venice's waterfront near Saint Mark's Square. Another way to see it it's to do an amazing gondola ride and pass beneath it.
Venice bridges without railings: Ponte del Chiodo
That's a curious but also private bridge. This structure without railings connects the main road to the house of the Chiodo family.
It is not so easy to find, and it is located in Cannaregio, close to Scuola Grande della Misericordia.
There is another bridge in Venice without hand railing, but it is in a small island of the Venetian lagoon and it is the famous and iconic Ponte del Diavolo (Devil's Bridge).
The bridge with a curious history: Ponte dei Pugni
Do you know what 'pugni' means in Italian? It means 'punches' and there is actually a 'Punches bridge' in Venice, in Dorsoduro, not far from the Gallerie dell'Accademia.
The history of this structure is very interesting as it really deals with punches!
In fact, it takes its name from an ancient game which was played between September and the end of the year.
The two teams, the Castellani and the Nicolotti, used to gather on small bridges without handrail and, throwing punches to the other, try to knock the opponents into the cold canal.
With the passage of time, it became a real fight, causing physical consequences and even death. That's why it was forbidden in 1705.
However, between Campo San Barnaba and Campo Santa Margherita, the Ponte dei Pugni is still here, showing 4 footprints on the Istrian stone.
Temporary bridges: the Festa del Redentore (or Feast of the Holy Redeemer)
There is still one boat bridge in Venice. In all truth, it is a floating bridge made once a year on the third Sunday of July.
The special occasion is the Feast of the Holy Redeemer and it requires that a temporary bridge is built over the Giudecca Canal to connect the main island to the Redentore church (located on Giudecca island).
A ceremony takes place at the church but it's during the evening that the most spectacular part of the event begins. In fact, up in the sky you can see the most amazing fireworks show you have ever seen!
How many bridges did we not mention in our article?
So many bridges and so many stories behind each of them. That is why we are so in love with our city.
Because, even if we are living here since forever, there is always something new to discover and new stories to tell.
We hope you enjoyed our tour among the most famous bridges of Venice and we hope you come to Venice soon to discover them all.
Venice bridges are waiting for you to be crossed.