About Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sigh was designed by Antonio Contino and it was the last vestibule that offered a view of the outside world to the convicts before their incarceration or execution. Today, hundreds and thousands of tourists are drawn to the historical bridge for not just being part of history, feel emotions of condemned prisoners but also to affirm the everlasting love and romance of the couples.
This might seem awkward to correlate with the history of the bridge, but, it is said that, if lovers kiss under the bridge while boating in Venetian Gondola at sunset while St Mark’s bells ringing, their love and happiness is granted eternally.
The bridge remains a government property even today, yet thousands of tourists approach by boat and admire the beauty of its architecture. The bridge can be crossed on foot if you visit the Palace which gives an excellent spot to take photographs of the canal, city and the bridge.
How to Reach Bridge of Sighs
By Air :
Marco Polo airport in Venice is the nearest airport to the Bridge of Sighs, situated at a distance of around 14 kilometers. You can take a bus, ferry or taxi to reach the Bridge from there.
The least expensive but slowest option is the public transport bus, which covers the distance in around 50 minutes.
Ferry rides offer breathtaking views of the city, but they can take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half.
The quickest way to reach the bridge is to take a taxi. It would cost you more, but you will reach in around 15 minutes.
Best Time to Visit Bridge of Sighs
The best month to visit Bridge of Sighs is February which sees mild Adriatic winters. The temperatures hover around 8 deg ℃. This is the best time to visit without Venetian summer humidity. Also, it’s better to visit after the first ten days of Feb to ten days before the end of the month.
This time sees lesser number of visitors with cruise ships gone in early Feb and tourists flowing in for carnival in the month end. It’s also advisable not to visit the Bridge during rainy season as the water levels may be unsuitable for boat rides.
To avoid the crowds, it’s also recommended that you plan the visit on weekday as weekends see thousands of tourists heading for Venice. If you plan it carefully, you can visit the Bridge at non-peak hours like the lunch break of morning and avoid the rush. whether you come as a couple, family or a group, it’s best to smartly plan your itinerary as you will be visiting multiple sites in Venice.
What Not to Miss at Bridge of Sighs
As a globally revered and renowned tourist destination, millions of travellers flock to Venice for a multitude of destinations. It would be virtually impossible to not be charmed by the tourist destinations and architectural landmarks in the vicinity of the Bridge of Sighs.
Constructed in the typical Venetian Gothic style of the period, Doge’s Palace is probably the most important architectural landmark of Venice. Constructed in 1340, this imposing structure is stunning in its ambition and expense, with its intricately carved colonnades and courtyards and opulently designed chambers.
For centuries, the official residence of the Doge (Duke) of Venice, since 1923, the palace has been functioning as a museum.
The cathedral church of the Archdiocese of Venice, it’s a timeless testament to the ingenuity of Italian architecture and sculpture. It was initially connected to the palace as its chapel, it became the archdiocese cathedral around two centuries ago.
This 11th-century church, breathtaking for its mosaic made of gold ground, was known locally as the Church of gold. The magnificent domes, a unique blend of Byzantine and Italian architectural elements and the statue of St. Mark are all features that enthral both laypersons and students of architecture.
No visit to Venice can be complete without a stroll in St. Mark’s Square, also known as Plazza San Marco. This could be referred to as the centre of Venice, not just geographically, but socially, religiously and culturally as well.
Abutted by the Church of St. Mark on its eastern end, the Plazza would be familiar to millions of people around the world through its depictions in multiple paintings, movies and other elements of popular culture. The quote attributed to Napoleon about the Plazza rightly sums it up as “the drawing room of Europe ''.
Connected to the Bridge of Sighs through the family of its architect, the Rialto Bridge is one of the four main bridges in the Grand Canal. Initially built as a floating bridge in the 12th century by Nicolò Barattieri, the modern bridge was constructed over three years from 1588 to 1591.
This single-span pedestrian bridge is now an architectural icon, attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world.
Constructed in Renaissance traditions, the Clock Tower is situated at the point of entry to Merceria. The clock tower has two lower structures on its side, giving it a pleasing aesthetic balance. Constructed in the late fifteenth century, the technology behind the clock has changed and kept up to date, whereas the building that houses it has steadfastly remained true to its original architectural ethos.
Other Essential Information About Bridge of Sighs
Location: Crossing the Rio di Palazzo, the Bridge of Sighs is at Piazza San Marco, 1, 30100 Venezia VE, Italy.
History and Architecture
The entire structure is made of Istrian stone, named after Istria, now in Croatia. As Venice didn’t have building stones, they had to be imported. The same stone was used to construct some of the famous architectural landmarks of Venice, including cathedrals.
The construction started in 1600 and the Bridge was commissioned after two years. Constructed in seventeenth-century Italian renaissance tradition, the Bridge’s architecture is notable for its use of Gothic elements, perhaps incorporated to highlight the venues it was connecting.
There are vividly expressive mascarons on the sides of the bridge that greet tourists on gondolas as they pass underneath. The Doge’s Palace was the seat of the ruler of Venice. It had the old prison and cells for interrogation. The Bridge was constructed to connect those facilities in the palace to the New Prison.
View from the Bridge of Sighs
Maximum security prisoners who were condemned to execution or long prison sentences would walk down the Bridge to their final destination, and pause to look through the small windows. What they saw outside - the ethereally beautiful city of Venice - was a grim reminder of all that they had lost.
That’s one of the reasons this bridge stands out in a city that has over 400 bridges and 100 canals. That moment of contemplation, of disillusionment and despair, has given the Bridge a pensive history, unlike other popular tourist destinations in the world.
Today, the view from inside, through the short windows, is almost the same that the prisoners had centuries ago. It’s a brief flight of fancy to a world of beauty and freedom that’s out of reach. Elements of Gothic vestige in the structure amplify the feeling of helplessness while the length of the bridge - considerably short when compared to others - reinforces the certainty of what awaits one.
What many don’t know is that there are two parallel passages in the Bridge, which were constructed to segregate prisoners, in all likelihood. The view of the bridge from outside, on the contrary, is pleasant, romantic and enchanting, especially when seen from a gondola in the evening.
Romance and the Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is unique in how its real history - as the place where a condemned prisoner would sigh at the final glimpse of the outside world - has been redefined in the popular imagination with a different, romantic story of origin.
In this version, couples who kissed underneath the bridge in a gondola at sunset and when bells of St Mark’s Campanile chimed, were destined to be together forever in love. This reshaping of the myth was a significant factor in millions of couples taking the gondola ride through the canal in the evening.
Popular songs, literature, poetry and even Hollywood films promoted this idea to such an extent that a large proportion of tourists today prefer the boat ride when compared to visiting the bridge.
Why is it called the Bridge of Sighs?
"I stood in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs, a palace and prison on each hand.” That was Lord Byron explaining the significance of the Bridge and its peculiar name. The Bridge connects offices of the old prison in the palace to the new prison.
Condemned prisoners, especially of heinous crimes, would walk down the bridge into their prison cells, either to await execution or serve long prison sentences that would end in their deaths inside the jail. During the walk, it was said that they would pause and look out of the window at the world outside, a moment of brief reflection, of agony and regret, and then sigh.
There’s even a crucifix at the beginning of the bridge to offer solace to those on their final passage of freedom. An imaginary but immensely popular counter version is that if lovers kissed - with a sigh - under the bridge in a gondola at the exact time of sunset and when the bells at ST. Mark's chimed, they would remain in love forever.
This is the amiable and tourist-friendly version that continues to attract thousands of couples on gondola rides on the canal towards the Bridge of Sighs.
Tips for visiting Bridge of Sighs
- You don’t have to enter the Bridge to appreciate its beauty. If you are visiting the Doge’s Palace, it makes sense to see the Bridge, but if you are short of time or if your itinerary is packed, you can always see it from either a gondola or the Ponte della Paglia or the Bridge of Paglia. You can also see the Bridge from Ponte della Canonica.