Discover the Bridge of Sighs – one of Venice’s best-known sights.
It’s little wonder – arching elegantly over a Venetian canal, its ornate architecture is the epitome of Venetian style. As with many places to visit in Venice though, there’s a not-so-pretty story woven into its stonework.
Planning on visiting Venice? Here’s what you need to know about visiting this iconic Venice bridge.
The History of the Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs was commissioned in 1604 by the Doge of Venice, Marino Faliero.
The bridge was built to connect the Doge’s Palace with the New Prison on the other side of the canal which mainly housed political prisoners.
Initially, these prisoners had been kept in the cellars of the Doge’s Palace, but after a while, there were too many and the so-called New Prison was built across a canal from the palace.
It was designed by Antonio da Ponte. Construction began in 1602 and was completed in 1614.
It was originally made entirely out of wood. However, the bridge soon began to rot and needed to be replaced.
The current iteration of the bridge was built in 1846, and it’s made out of limestone from Istria (in modern-day Croatia). The bridge’s architecture is inspired by the Venetian Gothic style and, as such, features elaborate arches and intricate carvings built into its design.
Why is it Called The Bridge of Sighs?
Prisoners who would cross it on their way to imprisonment – they would sigh at the view of Venice for the last time.
It was Lord Byron, however, who is credited with giving it its official name, when he wrote the following about it:
“I STOOD in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
A palace and a prison on each hand:
I saw from out the wave her structures rise
As from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand;
A thousand years their cloudy wings expand
Around me, and a dying glory smiles
O’er the far times when many a subject land
Looked to the wingéd’s Lion’s marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles!”
Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, 1817
How to Visit the Bridge of Sighs Today
If you’re planning on visiting Venice, make sure to add the Bridge of Sighs to your list of things to see. The bridge is located near the Doge’s Palace, so it’s easy to find.
The only catch? You have to be booked onto a tour of the Doge’s Palace to be able to walk across it.
It’s definitely worth the effort though, as the view from the bridge is spectacular. The bridge spans a narrow canal, and on either side you can see beautiful Venetian architecture and a tantalising look at Venice’s Grand Canal.
See The Bridge from One of Venice’s Other Bridges
You may observe the Bridge of Sighs from the Ponte Canonica on the northern side of the bridge, but on the southern side, most tourists prefer to photograph it from the Ponte della Paglia.
Ride a Gondola Under The Bridge of Sighs
Alternatively, why not take a gondola ride under the bridge? You’ll be able to get up close and personal with the bridge’s intricate architecture, and the view from below is simply stunning.
Interesting Facts About the Bridge of Sighs
It’s Been Featured in a Lot of Movies
The bridge has been featured in many movies and TV shows over the years, including Casino Royale and From Russia With Love.
There’s a Replica in Pittsburgh
In 1875, a replica of the bridge was built in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It’s also called the “Bridge of Sighs” and is a popular tourist attraction.
Bridge of Sighs, Venice: Map
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