About Grand Canal
This splendid S-shaped canal flows through the centre of the city and divides it into two parts while being considered as the most important waterway of the city. Through each side of the canal runs a number of artistically decorated buildings dating back from the 13th to the 18th century, constructed by the richest families of the city that signifies the culture of “Serenissima” republic.
How to Reach Grand Canal
The closest Airport from the Grand Canal is the Marco Polo Airport, which is the only airport in Venice for all international flights.
1. Private Taxi/Car: Many local travel service providers provide an option of private cars and taxis to reach the canal from the airport covering a distance of 14km that takes approximately 15 minutes.
2. Bus: The most convenient and reasonable option to reach the canal situated at the distance of 14km from the airport is via bus which is 20 minutes non stop drive to Piazzale Roma or the Venice bus terminal, providing bus services three times in an hour. For your further journey from Venice bus station, you can opt for a local water taxi, Vaporetto or continue to walk to your destination of stay.
3. Waterbus: Another option is to opt for a water bus directly from the airport that takes nearly 40 min to reach the main canal covering a water distance of almost 8 km.
Best Time to Visit Grand Canal
Starting of May is considered as the most favorable time of the year to visit the Grand Canal, Italy due to the comfortable and warm weather because of regular sun appearance. It is suggested to opt for the boat ride option in the morning before 9 am when there is less crowd of tourists around to take the ride or during the early evening hours. If you decide to take an evening gondola ride after 7 pm then the prices are comparatively steep.
What Not to Miss at Grand Canal
What makes the Grand Canal so alluring and serene? Of course, it's a collection of all gorgeous places situated around it, few of which are listed beneath.
1. Palazzo Grassi: This neoclassical building with the fusion of modern architecture is used as a museum in today’s date to exhibit various kinds of art collection. The pleasing Palazzo Grassi is decked up with both Classical and Baroque styles, it was the last place to be designed on the canal before the fall of the Venetian Republic. The unusual design of the place gathers four wings around the courtyard which adds an extra edge to its intricate design.
2. Ca' d'Oro: Situated on the right bank of the canal, this beautifully crafted Gothic style building can astonish anyone with its charm and glee. This building is also called the House of Gold because of the marble filigree work.
The interior of the building signifies the way noble Venetians used to live and illustrates the vividness of their culture and art. It's now been turned into a museum that houses a wide art collection, portraits and much more. Even after dissipated rich paint and original gliding over the years, the building still looks amusing and stunning.
3. Santa Maria di Nazareth: The floating church, built in the 1670s is located right next to the Santa Lucia train station overlooking the smallest of all bridges “Ponte degli Scalzi” right in front of it. Its second chapel on the right has Tiepolo's fresco and the third chapel towards the left has fresco Christ Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Other Essential Information About Grand Canal
Location: The Grand Canal passes right from the center of the fish-shaped Venice city, it forms a reverse S-shape when seen from the aerial view, splitting the city into two. One end of the canal opens into the district of Santa Croce and Cannaregio whereas the other end widely opens into the Saint Mark’s Basin.
History of the Grand Canal
It is said that the Grand Canal escorted the path of the ancient river, where the first settlement of the region lived. During the 10th century, it was considered the center of trade and ship accessing port due to which many merchants who did business on the seas built their houses along the canal. By the start of the 12th and 13th centuries, houses along the canal were styled in Byzantine-style architecture which can be seen in old buildings like Ca' da Mosto, a 13th-century palazzo.
The Gothic style came into existence during the 15th century and some of its great examples still can be seen along the canal such as the House of Gold. The Renaissance Classical and Baroque-style buildings came into existence during the 16th and 17th centuries, which was also marked as the most prolific times of construction activities along the waters. But, during the 18th century, much of these construction activities along the canal were stopped.
However, the 19th and the 20th century signified the renovations of various historic waterfront buildings out of which some have been converted into museums and being looked after by different foundations to keep their charm alive.
Architecture of the Canal Grande
People from all across the world come to tour around the Grand Canal due to the establishment of centuries-old palaces which are erected on either side of the canal. The major number of these palaces dates back from the 13th to the 18th century, an era when the Venetian Republic existed. These glorious historical buildings showcase the wealth of the Venetian families during the times when the Venetian Republic was in power.
These spectacular palaces along with the Grand Canal constituents various styles, architecture, and movements. The canal houses palaces influenced by the gothic, baroque and byzantine styles along with the elements of neoclassical and renaissance architecture fused with the modern style of architecture.
During the 12th and 13th centuries, homes constructed along the canal were much more ornate and inspired from Byzantine style decoration which included the arches and large loggias. With the beginning of the 15th century, the Venetian-Gothic style architecture started ruling all over which included bright coloured plasters, pointed arches and skinny columns.
However, the homes and buildings designed during the 16th century featured the Classical and Renaissance styles with white colour facades and round touted windows etc. An example of such an architecture involves Palazzo Grimani and Palazzo Dario.
Traveling on the Grand Canal
There is not just one but several ways of gliding the Grand Canal such as Gondola, waterbus and motorboats, etc. A motorboat with a guide is a good option as you will be taken quite close to the attractions for great views. Additionally, the group tour boats cruise through famous churches and neighboring sites while guiding through all the details about the place. But, when in Venice how can a Gondola ride be missed? It is the best option to tour around the sublime Grand Canal in a purely Venetian style.
All the bridges on the Grand Canal in Venice:
The Grand Canal has four bridges over it and each of these bridges were erected at different times, therefore, it follows a completely different style and architecture.
1. The Constitution Bridge: The Constitution Bridge is the most recently constructed bridge on the Grand Canal, it was forged in 2008 and also called “Ponte della Costituzione”. It connects the Train Station and Piazzale Roma in the districts of Cannaregio and Santa Croce, the last point of Venice city which is reachable by cars and buses. It was mainly constructed to save the walking time from one destination to the other.
However, the bridge isn’t liked due to its steep construction cost and additionally, it is not meant for the soft surface of the city due to which it is being constantly observed as it is drifting away from the two sides of the canal thus also being questioned on its stability. Besides, the slippery glass step design is not suitable to walk upon.
2. The Barefoot Bridge: It is the first bridge to be seen as you leave the station. This bridge also connects the two districts of Santa Croce and Cannaregio just like the Constitution Bridge. The Barefoot Bridge was constructed in 1934 by architect Eugenio Miozzi during Fascism in Italy.
This elegant looking bridge is carved out of stones that replaced the old iron bridge which was designed during the Austrian domination. It is said that the bridge got its name due to close proximity to the Church of the Barefoot, while others believe that the name is given due to the number of beggars residing nearby and passing over the bridge with bare feet.
3. The Rialto Bridge: The Rialto Bridge certainly holds more importance over other bridges built over the Grand Canal due to its construction on the canal during the Venetian Republic times; however, the other bridges were built in recent times, a decade or centuries ago. This bridge is also known as the Ponte di Rialto that links Serenissima ( the heart of political power) in the district of Saint Mark’s to the district of San Polo which is well known as the core of the economic power of the city.
When the bridge was first laid in 1250, it was made entirely out of wood that allowed big ships sail through the length of the Grand Canal and reach Rialto, known as the market place and port of Venice city. But this wooden drawbridge changed over time and also got damaged during many occasions over the years. Ultimately in 1591, the admirable bridge on the narrowest point of the canal got its makeover done with embedded stone structure and arches by an architect named Antonio da Ponte, making it a cynosure of the city.
4. The Accademia Bridge: The only wooden and the last bridge to be seen in the city is the Accademia Bridge that got its name from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia or the fine Arts Academy of Venice formed in 1807. The design of this bridge was suggested back in 1488 however, it was never made during the Venetian Republic times. The bridge connects the districts of Dorsoduro with Saint Mark’s district.
The first version of the bridge was made out of steel in 1854 but during Fascism in 1933 it was destroyed and replaced with a wooden body. The bridge has undergone several renovations due to its wooden structure as wood requires more maintenance as compared to stone. The last restructuring, however, took place in 2017-18 which was financed by Luxottica Group of Veneto.
Evolution of the Grand Canal
It is believed that the Grand Canal, Venice followed the path of the ancient River Brenta into the lagoon. As per the collected data, the earlier groups of settlement may have resided near the Rio Businiacus even before the Roman era. It was after the ruling of the Roman empire and then that of the Byzantine Empire, the lagoon started getting populated and soon became a vital part.
The evolution of the Venice city took place after the growth of the economic and political power, due to which the Chief Magistrate was moved from Malamocco to Venice in the 9th century as this area of Rivoaltus could provide a sense of safety to the Venetian Republic.
Venetians worked flawlessly to keep their limited assets safe and aimed their focus on trading. That is how Lagoon of Venice was important in protecting the Venetians from the enemies and the Grand Canal played a vital role for carrying out trading activities.
Tips for visiting the Grand Canal:
1. The Grand Canal is mostly crowded during the day time due to rush of boats, therefore, taking a Gondola ride is not a recommended option with several large-sized boats around. Keep this option to go around backstreet canals.
2. May is considered the best month to visit the Grand Canal in Venice due to its comfortable and warm atmosphere.
3. Take a guided motorboat tour for better views and more information.
4. Avoiding travelling the canal via Lane 2 as it is meant for a quick tour and you will miss some famous attractions.