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Canal Grande or the Grand Canal is the main street of Venice.

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In the shape of an upside-down “S”, it divides the old city into two parts, winding its way through the six sestieri (districts). To me (Chris), Venice resembles two clasping hands with the right hand on top. Our apartment is located on the right hand in sestieri Canneregio, near where the left finger tips nest into the right palm.

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It is about 4 km long, width from 30 to 70 m, and an average depth of 5 m. One end starts near the railway station and it ends near Piazza San Marco (see earlier post here).

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The banks of the Grand Canal are lined with more than 170 recognized buildings, most of which date from the 13th to the 18th century. There are many books (touristy or academic) and maps (ancient and modern) showing each building with stories behind its history.

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The scale and architecture of the buildings demonstrate the wealth and artistry of the old Republic of Venice. Many are fanciful enough to be called palazzos and are owned by noble Venetian families and rich Italians.

Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti

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Most of the city’s traffic goes along the Canal rather than across it.

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There was only one bridge crossing the canal until the 19th century, the Rialto Bridge. We will have a future post about Rialto.

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There are currently three more bridges, the Ponte degli Scalzi, the Ponte dell’Accademia, and the recent Ponte della Costituzione, designed by Santiago Calatrava,

Ponte dell’Accademia

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Ponte degli Scalzi

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Along the canal, one can see all the architecture styles that flourished and influenced the Venetians from Medieval 11th century to Modern. Because of its long history as a trading post with the east, many elements of eastern architecture had been adopted and merged into a distinct local style.

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Venetian Gothic combines the Gothic lancet arch with Byzantine and Moorish architecture influences. The style originated in 14th century and examples of the style are the Doge’s Palace and the Ca’ d’Oro in Venice.

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Ca’ d’Oro is one of the older palaces in the city, built between 1428 and 1430 for the Contarini family, who provided Venice with eight Doges (the leaders) between 1043 and 1676.

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Palazzo Bembo (right)

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More sceneries on the banks of the Grand Canal to come.



One Comment

  1. Love this one!

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