Venice, the "City of Canals," is also called the "City of Bridges" because of the numerous spans that crisscross its waterways. While many of Venice's 400+ bridges are nondescript and practical, there are several that embody the beauty and the history of this fascinating city. Here are the bridges to seek out on a trip to Venice.
This infamous footbridge connects the Doge's Palace with the Prigioni (prisons). Though many visitors find this bridge and its name romantic, it offered prisoners of the Venetian Republic a final opportunity to view the city before they were led to their cells or to the executioner. The Italian name for the Bridge of Sighs is Ponte dei Sospiri.
The Academy Bridge (Ponte dell'Accademia) is so named because it crosses the Grand Canal at the Galleria dell'Accademia, one of the top museums in Venice. While the Ponte dell'Accademia is not a new bridge – it was first erected in the mid-19th century then replaced in the 1930s – it is interesting for its high arch construction and the fact that it is wooden. The current Academy Bridge dates from 1985, when the 1930s bridge was deemed too dangerous.
Named for the nearby Chiesa degli Scalzi, literally the "church of the barefoot monks," the Scalzi Bridge is an elegant stone span that links the Santa Croce and Cannaregio neighborhoods. The Scalzi Bridge dates from 1934 and is one of four bridges over the Grand Canal. If you are arriving in Venice via rail to the Santa Lucia Station, the Scalzi Bridge will be one of the first bridges you will cross after disembarking.
Venice's newest bridge, completed only in 2008, was designed by the famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The final of four bridges to span the Grand Canal, the Calatrava Bridge has been a controversial addition to Venice's architectural landscape because of its modern appearance – built of steel and glass; its cost – approximately 10 million euros; and its necessity. Yet, the bridge, whose official name is Ponte della Costituzione has served a purpose: it links the Santa Lucia Rail Station to Piazzale Roma, a bus depot and car park.