A brief history of the Bridge of Sighs
La Ponte dei sospiri, as it’s so beautifully called in Italian, was designed in 1600 by Antonio Contin (who also designed the Rialto Bridge, one of Venice’s other top sights). This characteristic bridge of Venice is a short distance from the St. Mark’s Square and connects the Doge Palace with the Prigione Nuovo (new prison). This former jail is in fact the first building in the world that was specifically developed to serve as a prison. The Bridge of Sighs functioned as a transfer for prisoners to the inquisitors’ offices where they were put on trial.
It was given this name because, according to tradition, the prisoners sighed when they were seeing the outside world for the last time through a little window on the bridge. Whether this is correct, isn’t actually known for certian, but as it says in Italian, “Se non è vero, è ben trovato!” (If it’s not true, it was a good find!)
Visiting the Bridge of Sighs
You have four ways to see the Bridge of Sighs in very different ways:
- If you’re in a hurry, it’s best to admire it from a distance. You only have two places to view this baroque bridge. The first is the busiest and that is from the Ponte della Paglia (Bridge of Paglia). You reach this place by going to the right along the Doge’s Palace (with your back to the lagoon). You can not miss this bridge because it’s the first bridge you encounter.
- The other (and best) place where you can see it, is also from a bridge: the Ponte della Canonica.
- You can also actually walk on the Bridge of Sighs when you visit the Doge’s Palace. You will not only visit the famous palace, but also the prisons, as well as the famous bridge. You will then discover that it is divided into two narrow parts divided by a wall in the middle. This was because the prisoners coming from both directions could never see each other.
- Finally, you can enjoy a romantic boat ride under the Bridge of Sighs in a gondola. Note that this can be pricey. Below is an overview of the prices for a gondola in Venice:
– During the day you pay 80 euros for a half-hour ride. For every additional twenty minutes you pay 40 euros extra.
– In the evening you pay 100 euros for a 40-minute ride and cost you 50 euros each additional twenty minutes.
– A shared gondola tour can also be arranged, if you don’t mind sharing your boat with strangers. This costs 30 euros per person.
Some facts about the Bridge of Sighs
- Did you know there are more than 400 bridges and 100 canals in Venice?
- The most famous prisoner who ever made the crossing to the prigione nuovo from the Doge’s Palace is none other than Casanova. This old-fashioned ‘player’ was arrested in 1755 for spreading an “anti-religious feeling” which was a major problem in the pious city. Fifteen months later, however, he managed to escape.
- A local Venetian legend suggests that loved ones will always stay together when they kiss each other during the sunset while sailing in a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs.
- This is not the only Bridge of Sighs in the world! There is also one in Oxford, Cambridge and New York.
- This beautiful bridge, hanging over the Rio Palazzo canal, is about eleven meters (36 feet) tall and made of beautiful white Istrian marble. If you look at this building closer, you notice twenty mask heads.
Whether you find eternal love under this famous bridge is not certain, but it is true that visiting La Serenissima isn’t complete without seeing this great bridge!
Excursions in Venice
Do you want to walk through the Doge’s Palace onto the Bridge of Sighs? Or do you want to go see some other sights in Venice? Check out these nice trips in Venice:
» All tours and excursions in Venice
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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.