BRIDGES

TopTen

1. Bridge of Sighs

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This evocatively named bridge (known as Ponte dei Sospiri in Italian) once led convicts from the beautiful Doge’s Palace to the horrors of the adjacent prisons.

2. Rialto Bridge

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The design of this most famous Venetian bridge (see The Rialto) at the narrowest point of the Grand Canal was hotly contested – leading 16th-century architects Michelangelo, Sansovino and Palladio entered the competition, but lost out to Antonio da Ponte. There were two previous bridges on this site; a flimsy timber bridge that collapsed in 1444 under the weight of a crowd, then a drawbridge, which would be raised for the passage of tall-masted sailing ships.

3. Ponte dei Tre Archi

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A favourite subject for artists, this unusual three-arched high bridge dating from 1688 crosses the Cannaregio canal close to where it joins the lagoon. It was the work of engineer Andrea Tirali, nicknamed Tiranno (the tyrant) by his employees.

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Ponte dei Tre Archi

4. Ponte degli Scalzi

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One of the city’s most marvellous lookout points, over fascinating palaces and boats, can be found at the highest point of this elegant 40-m- (130-ft-) long bridge, which rises 7 m (23 ft) above the Grand Canal. Named after the nearby monastery of bare-footed monks, this 1934 structure in Istrian stone by Eugenio Miozzi replaced an Austrian-built iron bridge.

5. Ponte della Libertà

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Truth and irony combine in the name of this 3.6-km (2-mile) “Bridge of Freedom”: the first full link between the mainland and Venice was put in place in 1933, when Italy was living under Fascism. The construction was preceded 86 years earlier by the Austrian-built railway bridge across the lagoon. Before that, the city relied entirely on boats.

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Ponte della Libertà

6. Ponte dei Pugni

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Pugni (fistfights) between rival clans took place here until 1705 when they were outlawed for their violence. Stone footprints marked the starting point of the combat, but contestants usually ended up in the canal.

7. Bridge with No Parapet

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One of only two remaining bridges with no side protection, this one spans a quiet side canal in Cannaregio. The other is the Ponte del Diavolo on Torcello.

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Bridge with No Parapet, over Rio di San Felice

8. Ponte delle Tette

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When an increase in the practice of sodomy was recorded in the 1400s, the city’s prostitutes were encouraged to display their feminine wares at the windows over the “Bridge of Breasts”.

9. Tre Ponti

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Not three but five interlocking bridges span the Rio Novo canal near Piazzale Roma. The timber and stone structures afford views taking in 13 other bridges.

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Tre Ponti three-way bridge

10. Ponte della Costituzione

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Also known as the Ponte di Calatrava, after its designer Santiago Calatrava, this fourth Grand Canal is modelled on a gondola’s hull. It has attracted criticism since its 2008 inauguration due its minimalist modern design and the high cost of construction.

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