The history of the bridges of Venice
Venice is made up of 118 little islands intersected by 150 canals and linked by 400 bridges. Only three of these cross the Grand Canal, the main water way in Venice, they are the Rialto Bridge, the Accademia Bridge and the Scalzi Bridge.
Up until 1850, the Rialto Bridge was the only one to cross the Grand Canal. It was originally made of wood and opened to allow boats to pass through. It was rebuilt in 1591 by architect Antonio Da Ponte whose design won the city’s approval from many designs coming from the greatest architects of the day including Palladio.
The arched bridge is 28 metres long and includes shops.
Within ten years the Austrians built two more bridges, one of stone in front of the railway station, called the Scalzi Bridge and the other a temporary wooden structure in front of the Accademia art gallery. The Scalzi Bridge was rebuilt in 1932 by engineer Eugenio Miozzi (1889-1979). It is a single arc bridge made of Istrian stone and substituted the wrought iron, Austrian built bridge of 1858. It was inaugurated in 1934.
The Accademia Bridge was originally built in 1854 of wrought iron and substituted in 1984 with the temporary wooden bridge which is still waiting its definitive rebuilding in stone.
The Calatrava Bridge is designed by famous Spanish engineer and architect, Santiago Calatrava. It is the fourth bridge to cross the Grand Canal and links mainland Piazzale Roma with the Santa Lucia railway station. In all this takes the number of bridges in Venice up to 431. The bridge is a single arc of 81 metres, 6 metres wide, 9 in the centre and rises 10 metres above the water at its highest point. It is made of steel with pavements and sides, a mix of glass and Istrian stone with railings in bronze.
Another famous bridge in Venice is the Sospiri which can be found near St Mark’s beside the Doge’s Palace. It was built at the beginning of the 1600s to link the old prisons of the Doge’s Palace with the new prisons on the other side of the canal.