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The Grand Canal, Venice's magnificent water street is also called the “Canalazzo“. This is one of the real canals of Venice and it is the most important water way of Venice. Its lenght is about 3800 meters and it splits the city in two sides, "de citra" and "de utra".
You know, Venice looks like a fish, not bad for a city on the lagoon! The Grand Canal it's like a thick dark line that creates a kind of "big S" inside the fish.
By each sideof the Grand Canal you can see many different and magnificent palazzi (from a period dated between XII and XVII century) that testify the richness and beauty of the art during the “Serenissima“ Republic.
The Grand Canal 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. One if this fondaci is: Fondaco dei Tedeschi, now houses luxury shops but..also a magnificent terrace where you can enjoy one of the best view of Venice!
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 presented the project) and inaugurated on September 11th 2008. It links the Santa LuciaTrain Station with Piazzale Roma (bus station). Right after it, there is the “Ponte degli Scalzi ("Barefoot Bridge") . Proceeding towards Saint Mark's Square we find the Rialto Bridge, certainly the most famous one, once made of wood "Ponte delle monete". 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 area (and the Accademia museum) and Saint Mark's district.
These four bridges are not the only way to cross the Canal Grande: a quite cheap gondola our public ferry - traghetto) service takes people, tourists and locals, 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 Salute church 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 belltower, our so called “El paron de Casa”.
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!
If you want more tips related to the Grand Canal your our free tour, for a local point of view! :)