13 Most Famous Bridges in Venice (With Photos!)

Italy’s Floating City is known for the iconic canals separating its 118 islands. Yet without about 400 bridges spanning them, Venice wouldn’t be so fascinating (and walkable!).

Since all bridges are not created equal, I wanted to show you the most famous bridges in Venice — the ones you just have to cross next time you visit the City of Canals.

Venice canal view at night with bridge and historical buildings. Italy.

Unlike the bridges of Florence, which you can tour quite easily by strolling along the Arno River, here you’ll have to lose yourself in Venice’s maze-like neighborhoods. Let’s start exploring then!

Famous bridges in Venice spanning the Grand Canal

1. Rialto Bridge

Rialto Bridge

Famous as: Instantly recognizable landmark

Alongside the gondolas, St. Mark’s Square, and the canals themselves, the Rialto Bridge is the ultimate Venice landmark. Much like the city that grew around it, it has the charm of something you won’t find anywhere else on the planet.

The famous bridge in Venice stands at the site of the very first structure to span the Grand Canal, a floating bridge built in the 12th century. It strategically connected the then flourishing Rialto Food Market with San Marco, the city’s political core.

A few wooden bridges succeeded the floating one, but all of them eventually collapsed. The issue remained unsettled for most of the 16th century, until the current stone structure was finished in 1591.

The one-arch design was inspired by the previous wooden bridge, which back then was already lined with shops. The whole thing is sustained by the original 12,000 elm wood poles that were driven into the canal floor.

You can (and should!) shop till you drop as you stroll along the bridge’s central alley, then take in the breathtaking views of the Grand Canal from either side of the outer pathways.

2. Ponte dell’Accademia

Accademia Bridge, or the Ponte dell'Accademia is one of only four bridges to span the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy.

Famous for: Connecting the city center to Dorsoduro district

Crossing Ponte dell’Accademia from downtown will lead you into Dorsoduro, the second most important district in town.

Here you can visit landmarks like the Academy of Fine Arts, where geniuses like Modigliani studied. The Academy is located right in front of the bridge named after it. If you feel like exploring some more, head eastward to see the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

Keep walking to reach the octagon-shaped Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, then Punta della Dogana (or the Customs Tip), the meeting point of the Grand and the Giudecca canals where you’ll be met with superb views of the city and the Lagoon.

Ponte dell’Accademia was the first bridge to be built over the Grand Canal in approximately 250 years. Before then, Rialto reigned supreme. In the mid-1800s, Venice was being impacted by rapid change as a train station was built at the outskirts of town.

Luckily, no 10-deck cruise ship would cross the Grand Canal back then, yet the railroad brought about the onset of mass tourism in Venice. In order to make the life of pedestrians easier, this bridge and our next stop were erected in the 1850s.

3. Ponte degli Scalzi

Scalzi Bridge - Ponte degli Scalzi
Editorial credit: Maykova Galina / Shutterstock.com

Famous as: The train station bridge

Ponte degli Scalzi honors the Discalced (i.e. barefoot) Carmelites, whose monastery (the Church of Santa Maria di Nazareth) stands at the northern end of the bridge.

The bridge is better known, though, as the main pathway connecting Venice’s train station to the rest of the city.

I can’t think of a more suggestive way of traveling through Italy (and Europe!) than by train; if you agree with me, this is the first bridge you’ll cross when you arrive in Venice.

Like Ponte dell’Accademia, it was built in the mid-19th century to improve pedestrian mobility, as Venice had just been linked to the mainland through a railroad.

Ponte degli Scalzi may seem older because it was inspired by an 18th-century Neoclassical style to blend in with the surroundings, but the current structure was actually built in the 1930s.

4. Ponte della Costituzione

Ponte della Costituzione
Editorial credit: Maykova Galina / Shutterstock.com

Famous for: Controversial design

In case you get to Venice by either car or bus and choose to walk to your hotel, chances are you’ll cross Ponte della Costituzione on your way there. Dedicated in 2008, it’s the city’s newest and boldest-looking bridge.

Ponte della Costituzione was designed by Spanish starchitect Santiago Calatrava, who is known for showy projects like Rio’s Museum of Tomorrow and NYC’s World Trade Center PATH station.

The bridge in Venice is way more discreet than those, yet it does contrast with the historic surroundings. Since Italians are notoriously conservative when it comes to architecture and suspicious of government spending, the expensive project was met with widespread outcry.

Still, the steel-glass-and-marble bridge comes off as elegant to many visitors. Venetians, meanwhile, can keep pretending they don’t care about living in a more pedestrian-friendly city.

Bridges of Venice with unique stories behind them

5. Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs

Famous for: Sad history (+stunning architecture)

The Bridge of Sighs is hands down the second most famous bridge of Venice, after Rialto. But besides the imposing Baroque design from the early 17th century, it’s known for its partly legendary history.

The bridge connects the Doge’s* Palace to a former prison; inmates would be taken from one side to the other for questioning. Legend has it they would sigh over their last view of the external world as they crossed the bridge on the way back to their cells.

No one really knows for certain if the name is just a poetic take on a not-so-eventful history, as it seems only petty criminals were being imprisoned here when the bridge was built. In any case, facts don’t matter that much if a legend has already caught on.

To admire the classic view of the Bridge of Sighs, head to no. 12. For a less conventional vista from the other side, look for Ponte della Canonica instead (you’ll find it behind St. Mark’s Basilica). You can also walk the same path prisoners allegedly walked by taking the tour of the Doge’s Palace.

*The Doge was the title given to the head of state of the Republic of Venice for over 1,000 years.

6. Ponte delle Tette

Ponte delle Tette
Image credit: Paolo Steffan

Famous for: Spicy history

I wouldn’t get profane here if I didn’t have to, but Ponte delle Tette literally means “Bridge of the Tits”. This tiny crossing near Rialto stands in an area that once teemed with brothels.

One of them was apparently located right off the bridge. Prostitutes would advertise their business by standing topless at one of the windows, hence the bridge’s shameless name.

Oddly, it’s possible that at some point sex workers were in fact required by law to do that, as a way to discourage homosexuality in the city (wait, what?!).

7. Ponte dei Pugni

Near the Ponte dei Pugni, there is a large itinerant boat, which sells fruit and vegetables, a characteristic element of the place.
Editorial credit: Marco Fine / Shutterstock.com

Famous for: Violent history

This isn’t a particularly stunning bridge, yet it will take you between two beautiful if underrated squares in Dorsoduro: Campo Santa Margherita (where college students hang out) and Campo San Barnaba (which has appeared in lots of movies, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).

Ponte dei Pugni is better known, though, for being the stage of regular fistfights between two rival factions up until the early 1700s. (Appropriately, pugni means both “punches” and “fists” in Italian.)

While the Castellani lived to the east of town and worked mainly in the Venetian Arsenal, the Nicolotti were mostly fishermen from the westernmost districts.

The whole point of the battles was to throw opponents off the bridge (which used to lack railings). That might seem quite harmless, but as soon as knives began to be pulled out, the city banned the fights.

When crossing Ponte dei Pugni, you’ll spot a few footprints painted on the stone pavement. That’s where the winner of each faction would step on before each battle.

8. Ponte del Diavolo

Devil's Bridge in tiny Torcello island, near Venice, Italy, has few residents but it's often busy with sightseers in summer

Famous for: Spooky history

You might have a hard time reaching this bridge, as it’s not located in Venice proper. You’ll find it instead in Torcello, an ancient yet almost deserted island in the Venetian Lagoon where only about 10 people live today.

Still, staying away from Ponte del Diavolo shouldn’t be too much trouble for the most superstitious of you. Legend has it the so-called Devil’s Bridge was built by the Evil One in the flesh in a single night.

Like Ponte Chiodo (which is actually within town), Ponte del Diavolo is one of two bridges in town that have never had railings. It’s thought to date back to the 15th century, which would make it one of the oldest bridges within the archipelago.

Famous bridges in Venice spanning the Cannaregio Canal

Home to Venice’s old Jewish Ghetto and to the city’s casino (the oldest on Earth and one of only four currently operating in Italy), Cannaregio is Venice’s largest district. Yet it’s connected to the rest of town by a mere two bridges spanning the Cannaregio Canal.

9. Ponte delle Guglie

Ponte delle Guglie in summer day
Editorial credit: Julia Kuznetsova / Shutterstock.com

Famous as: Only bridge with spires

You might have noticed by now how the majority of the bridges of Venice are pretty simple design-wise. After all, since they’re such an essential part of daily life, functionality has always had the upper hand over style.

Ponte delle Guglie is a notable exception. The bridge is known for the four spires (which is precisely what guglie means in Italian) that embellish each corner and for the gargoyles on both sides of its arch.

Though the spires were added during a 19th-century restoration, the current stone-and-brick bridge is way older: it replaced a wooden one in 1580.

10. Ponte dei Tre Archi

Grandiose sunset on the canal Cannaregio and brigde Ponte dei Tre Archi in Venice, Italy

Famous as: Only three-arched bridge

When you’re done exploring Cannaregio, you can cross back to Santa Lucia (where the train station is located) through Ponte dei Tre Archi.

One of the best things about the Cannaregio Canal is that it’s sided by two of the longest fondamenta (i.e. canal walks) in town, so there’ll be plenty to see when you tour the neighborhood.

Like Ponte delle Guglie, Ponte dei Tre Archi is unique among the bridges of Venice for its design; there used to be a few other three-arched bridges in the city, but this is the only one that has survived to this day.

Other famous bridges in Venice

11. Ponte dei Bareteri

Ponte dei Bareteri
Image credit: Didier Descouens

Famous as: Oldest public bridge

Ponte dei Bareteri honors the cap (or beret) shops that once concentrated around this area (highly specific, I know).

While the oldest-surviving bridge in town seems to be a private wooden structure connecting the historic restaurant Poste Vecie to the Rialto Food Market, there’s little documentation on it.

Ponte dei Bareteri, on the other hand, is known to have replaced an earlier bridge in 1508, 80+ years before the Rialto Bridge opened.

Speaking of Rialto, Ponte dei Barateri stands midway between it and St Mark’s Square, so it should be easy to visit when you’re touring the city center.

Oddly, because it connects mismatched streets on each side of a canal, Ponte dei Bareteri is over three times as wide as it is long.

12. Ponte della Paglia

riva degli schiavoni with ponte della paglia in venice early morning, italy

Famous for: Unique views

Being Ponte della Paglia can’t be too much fun: the bridge is actually famous for its unobstructed view of the Bridge of Sighs.

In its defense, it’s also where you can see one of the most classic sights in town during summer, when the sun sets behind the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute.

An earlier bridge stood on the site from the mid-1300s, but the current structure dates back to 1847. Its name means “Bridge of the Straw”, as boats carrying just that would apparently moor around Ponte della Paglia back in the day.

13. Ponte della Libertà

Railroad Bridge across the lagoon leading to Venice, Italy

Famous as: Longest bridge (3.9 km or 2.4 mi)

Unless you’re so fancy you’re getting to Venice on a boat, your first contact with the city will be through Ponte della Libertà. This is the sole bridge connecting the Venetian archipelago with the mainland.

A railway bridge was built first, in 1846. Venice had remained isolated from the continent before then, which is probably to thank for the fact it’s so well-preserved today.

The highway bridge that runs side by side with the original crossing opened in 1933. Nowadays, you can walk or ride a bike through Ponte della Libertà as well, which is guaranteed to provide one-of-a-kind views of the Venetian Lagoon and the city center.

Conclusion

Bridge in Venice

The most famous bridges in Venice are rich with history (and gossip!), architectural splendor, and inspiration.

Now that you know how many bridges in Venice you can’t miss out on, let me know in the comments below which of these you can’t wait to see for yourself and if you’d add some other bridge to our list!

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