The city of Venice originated as a collection of 118 little islands crossed by 150 canals and linked together with more than 400 bridges. Of all these bridges, there are just four bridges linking the two docks of the Grand Canal – the main waterway and arterial ship canal of the city –, which are: Rialto Bridge, Accademia Bridge, degli Scalzi.Bridge and the “new” one Costituzione Bridge, better known as Calatrava Bridge from the name of its builder.
Until 1850, the Rialto Bridge is the only bridge on the Grand Canal, linking the two parts of the city.
Originally it was a wooden bridge which opened to allow the passage of boats and of the Bucintoro. It was rebuilt with stone in 1591, under a project of Antonio Da Ponte, the winner of a long challenge among the best architects of the 14th century, such as Palladio.
The bridge is 28 meters long and has just one arches. Two rows of shops were built along the sides of the bridge and still now they sell souvenirs and Venetian handicraft.
Within 10 years the Austrians built two more bridges, one made of stone just in front of Santa Lucia railway station, degli Scalzi.Bridge, and a wooden temporary one in front of the Accademia Galleries.
Degli Scalzi.Bridge was rebuilt in 1932 under a project of the engineer Eugenio Miozzi (1889-1979).
It is made up a single arches fully built with Istrian stone; the bridge was inaugurated in 1934 and it replaced the previous iron bridge built by the Austrian in 1858.
The Accademia Bridge, originally built with iron in 1854 and later substituted in 1984 with a wooden “temporary bridge” was never substituted with a final project bridge made of stone.
The Calatrava Bridge, designed by the famous architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, is the fourth bridges on the Grand Canal, between Piazzale Roma and Santa Lucia railway station; it is the 431st bridge of Venice.
The project costed over 14.000 euros; it is one arch bridge with 81 meters span, 6 meters large at the base and 9 at its center and it 10 meters high. The structure is made of iron, the pavement and the parapets are of glass and Istrian stone, its banister of bronze.
After years of delay, doubts and controversies regarding the stability of the bridge and the costs getting higher and higher, on July 28th 2007 the work on the bridge begin. It was supposed to be finished by the end of the year, but it was inaugurated on September 2008.
Another well-known Venice bridge is the Bridge of Sights, in Saint Mark’s area, beside the Doge’s Palace.
Built at the beginning of the 17th century to link the old prisons of the Doge’s Palace, the “Piombi” and the new ones, the “dei Pozzi”.