Sunday, July 7, 2013

Venice -a City of Canals and Bridges

Venice is an elegant older lady, full of charm and majestic architecture, with canals instead of streets and more than 400 bridges.

She is a romantic city... where you can get a gondola ride just for the joy of it!

Some even get a singer with accompaniment!  We enjoyed their music when they passed by... and it was great while it lasted.

The first picture and this one are our friends from Alberta.... 12 of us enjoyed a ride together in two gondolas. Above left to right is Barry and Gail Grabo, Byron and Joyce Grabo...amd Shirley.

Most of the bridges in Venice are masonry. 

Academy Bridge as seen from Peggy Guggenheim Museum (1854)
Some are wooden.  

Rialto Bridge opened 1591
Some are large.

And some are small..

But all have steps.  

And all are arched to accommodate boat passage under.

This is not a bicycle friendly place.

We were surprised to learn that it is illegal to ride a bicycle in Venice.  In fact you will get a fine if you are caught riding a bike here.  These bikes stayed parked in the foyer of our hotel until the guests left.

Venice is an island, divided in two by the Grand Canal... with only four bridges over it. 

This is the newest bridge over the Grand Canal.

On our way to board the Royal Carribbean cruise ship our vaporetto (water bus) went under this amazing bridge... unlike any other in this ancient city. This bridge is new... only five years old.

Immediately I was impressed by it's design.  Good design is not an accident.

I was clicking photos like crazy as we passed under it.

I resolved to come back when we returned after the cruise to take more pictures of the bridge and to walk over and enjoy it.  I love creative engineering!

There was a lot of controversy about this bridge before the design was approved.  There was resistance to do anything modern or contemporary in a city steeped in history.

Notice how you can see daylight thru the steps.

The bridge was opened September 11, 2008 and named Ponte della Constituzione.

But the locals and tourists call it the Calatrava Bridge after the famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Please click on this link to see exceptional photos of his world class portfolio of projects.

Every effort was made to integrate traditional materials into the construction.  The deck is paved in Istrian stone and the steps have a gentle rise that decreases as you ascend.

The glass panels are translucent so it isn't scary to walk over it.

The parapets are solid glass and the brass handrail seems to just float above.

At the ends of the handrails where they meet the abutments the architect left his subtle stamp with the crest of the Knights of Calatrava.

This pod for handicapped people was no doubt added to satisfy the complainers.

It has not yet been completed and the project has significantly exceeded the 6.7 million dollar budget... so who knows if or when it will get done.

Calatrava is well known for creating bridges inspired by nature and this bridge is no exception.

"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.  
It will never fail you." 
-Frank Lloyd Wright

What do you think?

Did they do the right thing here?

Do you like the bridge?

I came upon this link which shows some photos taken during construction... like floating the prefab sections on a barge down the river at night.  And cranes putting sections of the bridge into place.  I like construction projects so found this website most interesting.

Look at some the links and share your thoughts.


  1. definitely did the right thing with that bridge -- its incredible. they should tear down half that rotting city and build it back in that style, that beautiful technical hand-crafted futurism. not sure I'll get many votes for mayor of Venice. great pix tho.

    1. Shelby, I love that city but I do understand what you are saying. We did see some rot and on the hottest days we smelled a little bit of rot too but not badly.

      There is a very temporary feeling to only a place to visit and only briefly, to my way of thinking. On the airplane coming home I would try to sleep but when I closed my eyes I was stepping into a water taxi...and I would wake up again. So you know my comfort level was not extremely high there.

      Now Florence...

  2. Thanks son for your response. We both think alike. It was so wonderful to walk over that bridge... nothing like any of the others in the city.

    Did you check out other cool stuff that Calatrava has designed. He is truly amazing.

    I just changed my blog format... and noticed the link is does stand out... colour too close to all the other copy. I will fix.

    On this trip we have discovered several gifted artists and engineers. It is a real treat when engineers are also artistic. Over the coming weeks I will be sharing the best of what we enjoyed.

  3. I remember it those bridges...especially the new one. It is somewhat disconcerting to walk on that blue glass but it is easy to get used to.

    Of course, we must show them our trip through the Bridge of Sighs.

  4. There is an interesting 'Visit Alberta' ad running now on TV... and it shows a very interesting walking bridge.

    I would bet that it is the Peace Bridge in Calgary... done by Santiago Calatrava and opened in 2012.

    Check it out.

  5. That is a fabulous bridge.

    I'm curious if riding bikes is illegal, then why are there even bikes at the hotels? To get fines from tourists?!

  6. I guess a couple came on bikes not knowing it was illegal until they hit venice... so they parked them in the lobby. There is really no place to ride a bike in Venice.

    The police, not the tourists give the tickets, if necessary.