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.

Venice: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Venice.

  • Venice is located in the north-east of Italy, on the Adriatic Sea. The city is built on 118 islands in a lagoon and has a population of over 250,000.
  • The city was founded in the 5th century and was a powerful trading city by the 12th century. It has been called the ‘Floating City’, the ‘City of Canals’, and ‘Queen of the Adriatic’.

  • Venice has featured in many books including those by Hemingway and Charles Dickens, and the plays of William Shakespeare. It has featured in many films, including Moonraker, Death in Venice and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
  • Venice has over 170 canals and about 400 bridges. The most famous canal is the S-shaped Grand Canal, and the most famous bridge is the 16th century Rialto Bridge.
  • There are about 450 gondolas in Venice, and they are made from several different types of wood. Official gondoliers must know the city landmarks and must be able to speak another language.
  • Gondolas were first built in Venice in the 12th century. They have always been painted black, so that rich people were not able to choose the most brightly coloured boat.
  • Venice attracts over 18 million people each year.
  • High tides  in November and December can damage the historic buildings.
  • Almost all of Venice’s buildings are built on huge wooden poles which rest on the mud. The city is sinking at the rate of several mm each year.
  • Some famous people born in Venice include Vivaldi, Casanova and Marco Polo. The city’s main airport is named after the famous explorer, Marco Polo, one of the first Europeans to reach China.
  • Venice’s famous carnival dates from the 12th century. There are different types of carnival masks, one of which was first used to stop the spreading of germs and disease.

Rialto Bridge: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the Rialto Bridge.

  • The Rialto Bridge is one of four bridges that cross the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. The present bridge replaced a previous structure and was built in 1591.

  • The bridge was designed by a Swiss engineer, Antonia de Ponte and its longest span is just over 94 feet long. It is 75 feet wide and 24 feet high.
  • Michelangelo was one of the many who submitted a design for the new bridge. It was intended that the bridge be sturdy and have space for shops, so that rent could be collected.
  • The bridge took 3 years to construct, due to the depth of the canal at this spot and the unstable conditions. Most of the buildings in Venice are supported on wooden pilings.

Rialto Bridge

  • The bridge was designed so that tall ships could pass under the bridge. However, the design was controversial at the time, with many critics saying the bridge would crumble.
  • The money needed to build the Rialto Bridge came from several different sources. Some of it even cam from an early variation of the lottery.
  • Today, the Rialto Bridge is not only a means of crossing the canal, it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Venice. It is also one of the best places  in the city from which to take a photograph.
  • The area of Venice around the Rialto Bridge was one of the first parts of the city to be constructed. Silk, spices and precious stones were all traded here.
  • The first bridge across the Grand Canal at this same spot was a wooden bridge, built in the 12th century.
  • Not far from the Rialto Bridge is the famous Rialto fish market. It has been on the same site for over 1,000 years.