In the heart of Venice, stands a bridge full of mystery and romance: the Bridge of Sighs. This iconic stone bridge, with its architectural elegance and fascinating history, enchants me every time I look at it, as it does visitors from all over the world who flock to Venice to admire it.
Together with the Campanile di San Marco, it is one of the most recognisable symbols of Venice and has a fascinating and ancient history, also full of curiosities you should know.
Bridge of Sighs in Venice: history and curiosities of a masterpiece
The Bridge of Sighs is more than just a bridge in Venice. It is a symbol of romance and mystery, enchanting visitors to Venice. Its history is fascinating and describes a piece of Venetian history to be discovered by visiting the Doge’s Palace. In fact, tickets to the Doge’s Palace also allow you to cross the Bridge of Sighs.
HISTORY AND ARCHITECTURE OF THE BRIDGE OF SIGHS
The Bridge of Sighs was built in the 17th century to connect the Doge’s Palace to the New Prisons. Scholars agree that the architect Antonio Contino was the one who designed it, creating a bridge that is still an outstanding example of Venetian Renaissance architecture.
The bridge takes its name from the prisoners’ sighs that, according to one legend, emanated as they crossed the bridge, aware that this was the last time they would admire Venice.
Connecting, in fact, the Prisons to the Doge’s Palace, the bridge was only crossed by prisoners and guards, so it was only crossed after a trial or sentencing.
The New Prisons were built next to the Doge’s Palace, across the canal, and for this reason it was necessary to build the Bridge of Sighs, allowing passage from one palace to the other. However, they are not the only prisons there are, since other than the Prigioni Nuove there are also the Piombi, the cells located in the attic of the Doge’s Palace and whose prisoners have included illustrious personalities such as Giordano Bruno, Silvio Pellico and Giacomo Casanova, who recounts his famous escape from the Venetian prison in his book La mia fuga dai Piombi di Venezia.
CURIOSITIES ON THE BRIDGE OF SIGHS
The Bridge of Sighs is the protagonist of many stories and legends, which add to its charm.
Here are some of the most interesting ones you need to know:
- The windows of the Bridge of Sighs are characterised by stone bars and small openings that do not offer a true view of the city of Venice. This was intentional as the bridge was built as a passageway for prisoners and it was intended to prevent them from admiring the city before their imprisonment and above all from being seen by the citizens.
- According to a romantic legend, if two lovers ride a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs at sunset and kiss, their love will be eternal. This has helped make the bridge a symbolic place for all lovers visiting Venice.
- The famous Venetian painter Canaletto made numerous paintings of the Bridge of Sighs, helping to make it even more famous and fuelling its appeal over the centuries.
THE ROMANCE OF THE BRIDGE OF SIGHS
Crossing the Bridge of Sighs is a unique experience because you can identify with the many prisoners who have passed through during the centuries-long history of Venice.
Some were guilty and certainly guilty of grave offences, but others were probably innocent and unjustly imprisoned.
The legends and stories surrounding the bridge stir anyone’s imagination, taking you on a journey through time. You can admire the bridge from the outside, with its delicate architecture and view of the lagoon, or cross it to savour the sense of mystery and suggestion that surrounds it, making for an unforgettable experience.
WHY VISIT THE BRIDGE OF SIGHS
If you visit Venice you cannot miss the opportunity to cross the Bridge of Sighs, experience the thrill of walking where so many prisoners have hoped for a different fate, immerse yourself in the magic of one of the most beautiful architectural works in the world. Let the romantic and mysterious charm of the bridge envelop you and transport you to another era.
One of the must-see sights in Venice is the Bridge of Sighs, but it is not the only breathtaking piece of architecture encompassing centuries of history and art. To find out more about other wonders to visit, take a look at the page dedicated to what to see in Venice, with a list of museums, exhibitions and places you should visit.