Venice counts more than a hundred islands, intersected by about 150 canals, linked together by more than 400 bridges that originally consisted of wooden planks because they served the passage of horses in use in Venice in 1400. They were later built in stone and brick, protected by side espaliers. Today the bridges that cross the Grand Canal, the most famous waterway in Venice, are four: the Rialto bridge, the Accademia bridge, the Scalzi bridge and the Constitution bridge.
The Rialto Bridge was the only one, until 1850, to cross the Grand Canal. Originally made of wood, opened to allow the passage of boats. The stone bridge we still use today it was designed by Antonio da Ponte in 1591. It is 28 metres long and there are many shops that sell mostly Venetian specialties. The Accademia bridge was first built by the Austrian in iron. It was later substituted by a temporary wooden bridge, which is still in use today as the project of a stone bridge has never been realized.
The Scalzi bridge or railroad station, so called because it is located near the Santa Lucia train Station, built by the Austrians, too, was later rebuilt in 1932 in stone. The Constitution bridge, also called Calatrava’s bridge after the name of architect Santiago Calatrava, connects Piazzale Roma with Santa Lucia Station. The bridge has got a steel frame, floor and glass balusters and Istrian stone. It is not ancient at all as it was unveiled in 2008.
A famous bridge, although only walkable on guided tours, is the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri), which connects the new prisons with the ancient prisons called wells. It has been named so because the convicts, when they ran it, did sigh seeing Venice for the last time from its small window.
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Votive bridges: there are two other bridges that are built every year on the occasion of two major events in town. The pontoon bridge built at the Redentore festival links the Zattere to Giudecca island thus enabling citizens to go pay tribute to the Redeemer Church; the pontoon bridge of the Salute day connects Santa Maria del Giglio to the Santa Maria della Salute church.