Grand Canal Venice
The Grand Canal, Italy, connects most of Venice’s top attractions and acts as one of the city’s main waterways. The canal is over two miles long and connects with a labyrinth of smaller canals that wind through the city. When you visit Venice, you’ll spend a good portion of your time riding water buses, small boats and gondolas along the Grand Canal to reach your destination.
On either side of the canal, you’ll see impressive hotels, towering cathedrals and royal palaces lining the streets. Most buildings have a Gothic or Renaissance architectural style to them, adding to the dreamy, romantic atmosphere of the city. If you want to explore as much of Venice as possible, you’ll need to hit the Grand Canal and let it guide you to each spot on your ‘to-visit’ list.
Bridges crossing the Grand Canal
You’ll count four bridges along the Grand Canal as you tour its entire length, including the famous Rialto Bridge. This is the oldest of the four and was built back in the 16th century. Surrounding the bridge is a number of shops and cafés, which you can explore if you hop off the boat and go on foot. The most controversial of the four bridges is the Ponte della Costituzione. This modern glass bridge connects the train station to the Piazzale Roma. The Ponte degli Scalzi, also known as the ‘barefoot bridge’, is the main connection point joining the Santa Croce district with the train station. Finally, you’ve got the Ponte dell’Accademia, which is a wooden bridge built in 1985. It connects the San Macro area to the Accademia Gallery.
Touring the Grand Canal
You can hop on a boat and tour the entire canal at your leisure. Water buses and taxis also offer tours from San Marco to Porta Roma. Line 1 is the best option to see everything at a steady pace. Sit back and enjoy the wonderful views of your surroundings as much as possible. With a tour guide, you’ll learn all about the attractions and landmarks such as the Santa Maria Formosa and the San Giovanni e Paolo. If you’d rather have a more intimate experience, board a gondola and glide along the entire length of the Grand Canal at a much slower and calmer pace.
St. Mark’s Square
One of the main stops when you’re meandering down Venice’s central waterway, is St. Mark’s Square. It’s often referred to as the ‘drawing room of Europe’ and is home to lots of Venice’s best attractions including the St. Mark’s Basilica. Marvel at its golden mosaics and explore the museum inside, where you’ll discover ancient tapestries, the famous bronze Horses of San Marco and a collection of exquisite carpets.
Next, head over to Doge’s Palace and view its riches, fine art and wealth of luxurious apartments and eerie prisons. If you love history, stop at the National Archaeological Museum to learn about Venice’s exciting past. For more historical artefacts and to view a stunning collection of Venetian art, make your way to the Museo Correr museum, which is directly behind the line of shops along Procuratie Nuove.
You’ll pass many stunning churches along the Grand Canal including Santa Maria della Salute, which was built to celebrate the end of the plague in 1630. If you have time to explore it, make sure to check out the Sacristy. This is where you’ll find a collection of beautiful paintings including the famous ‘Marriage at Cana’ by Tintoretto. Another church worth exploring is San Stae, which is the final resting place of Doge Alvise Mocenigo II. One of the most impressive churches in Venice is the Santa Maria di Nazareth, which is found near the Venezia Santa Lucia train station. When you first walk in, bring your attention to the area above the organ, where you’ll find a stunning painting depicting Saint Teresa crowned by the Saviour by G. Lazzarini.
Grand Canal attractions
On the Grand Canal Italy, you’ll find lots of fantastic attractions including the Palazzo Grassi, a three-storey palace boasting a more modern Neoclassical architectural style. You’ll also discover a few museums along the banks such as the Museum of 18th century Venice, which is home to furniture and artefacts from the Rococo period. Further down the canal, you’ll come across the Natural History Museum, which was founded in 1923. This is one of the most exciting museums in Venice and home to exhibitions depicting fossils, dinosaurs and animal life in the Adriatic. You can easily spend a few hours exploring the museum. With over two million objects, you’ll have more than enough things to see during your visit.