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The Bridge of Sighs

A Visit to the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy


bridge of sighs photo

Bridge of Sighs

© 2002 by James Martin

The Bridge of Sighs, known as the Ponte dei Sospiri in Italian, is one of the most famous bridges in all of Venice. The bridge connects the Doge's Palace to the Prigioni, the prisons that were built across the canal in the late 16th century.

Antonio Contino designed and built the Bridge of Sighs in 1600. Though highly ornamental, built of fine, white limestone with lattice-like screens covering two small rectangular windows, the footbridge served a very practical purpose. It was used to lead prisoners from the examining rooms to their cells in the Prigioni.

Legend has it that the bridge earned its name from the fact that prisoners who crossed through it, on the way to their prison cells or the execution chamber, would sigh as they caught their last glimpses of Venice through the tiny windows. The bridge, and its unforgettable name, became particularly famous after the Romantic poet Lord Byron referenced the famous bridge in his 1812 book "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage":

"I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs; a palace and a prison on each hand."

Access to the Bridge of Sighs is available only through booking the Itinerari Segreti, the Secret Itineraries tour. You may also get a closer look at its exterior by taking a gondola tour.

More Famous Bridges in Venice

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