Bridge of Sighs: Facts and Information About the Ponte dei Sospiri

Here are some facts about the Bridge of Sighs.

  • The Bridge of Sighs is one of the most popular sights in Venice, Italy. It crosses the Rio di Palazzo and connects part of the Doge’s Palace with the new prison.

  • It was built of white limestone in 1600, and designed by Antonio Contino. It is one of 400 bridges in the city, which cross 400 canals.
  • Nobody is certain how the Bridge of Sighs got its name. It may have been from prisoners sighing as they walked across the bridge to the prison.
  • The bridge was built from white limestone from Istria, about 200 km away. The outside of the bridge is lined with sculptures of happy and sad faces.
  • There are several other bridges around the world with the same name. The Bridge of Sighs at the Venetian casino in Las Vegas is an exact copy, but smaller. There are also ones in Cambridge and Oxford in the UK.
  • Tradition has it that a couple will be happy forever if they kiss in a gondola at sunset under the bridge. The 1979 film A Little Romance has a plot based on this legend.
  • A tourist was hit in the leg by a piece of marble falling from the bridge in 2007. The incident led to restoration of the bridge which cost the equivalent of 3 million pounds.

Bridge of Sighs

  • Casanova was one of the most famous people to walk across the Bridge of Sighs. However, he was able to escape from the supposedly secure prison after being held for just 15 months.
  • The Romantic poet Byron mentioned the bridge in an 1812 book. He wrote “I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs; a palace and a prison on each hand.”
  • Inside the bridge are two narrow passages separated by a wall, and windows covered with grills. The interior can only be seen by visitors who go on a guided walk of the Doge’s Palace.

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