Discovering Venice along the Canal Grande (Grand Canal)
The navigation along the Canal Grande (Grand Canal), the S-shaped canal which is 5.8 km long, is the most pleasant way to breath the particular atmosphere of the city.
All along the large canal you can see many boats, bagres, vaporetti, motorboats and gondolas.
The Canal Grande is a sort of parade of increasingly majestic palaces more and more magnificent as you approach San Marco.
If you arrive at Piazzale Roma (the bus station), on your letf there is Santa Lucia railway station, build up in the 19th century. In front of it, on the opposite riverside of the Canal Grande, you can see the Church of San Simeone Piccolo, erected at the beginning of the 18th century and covered with a huge cupole.
If you take a vaporetto or a gondola, after San Simeone Piccolo, you pass under the firt of the three bridegs on the Canal Grande, called the Ponte degli Scalzi built in 1858. Going ahead, the following important building you come across is the fòndaco dei Turchi, unique for its terrestrial arches. Its name is a proof that from 1621 to 1838 the palace was the commercial seat of the Ottoman markets in Venice. Today it hosts the Museum of Natural History.
Then, you find Palazzo Vendramin Calargi, one of the most famous civil buildings of the Venetian Renaissance, Ca’ Pesaro, seat of the Modern Art Gallery and magnificent expression of the Venetian Baroque; then you can see Palazzo Corner della Regina, built between 1724 and 1726. The building derives its name from the Venetian family of Caterina Cornaro, wife of the king of Cyprus, and it hosts the historic Archive of contemporaneous arts, part of the Biennale of Venice.
After a few meters, you are captured by the gothic windows of the famous Ca’ d’Oro, so called because in the origins the façade was decorated with thin gold sheets.
Now the Canal Grande curves on the right and the wonderful Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge) appears. It is the oldest and most monumental bridge crossing the Canal Grande. It is located in the sestiere which has always been known as the commercial centre of Venice.
Then you can see numerous other palaces: Bembo, Dondolo, Loredan, Ca’ Farsetti and Grimani.
After the Canal Grande (Grand Canal) makes another curve, called “volta de canal” by the Venetians, there are Palazzo Barbarigo, Palazzo Civran and Palazzo Baldi. Beyond the rio Foscari, you can see Ca’ Foscari, built up in 1437, which is the main seat of the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. It is a wonderful example of the floreal Gothic style.
Then there is Ca’ Rezzonico, now seat of the Museum of the Seventh century art of Venice, where you can see valuable Tiepolo’s and Guardi’s oeuvres, and Palazzo Grassi. After passing under the Ponte dell’Accademia (Accademia Bridge), you can see Palazzo Contarini Zaffo, Palazzo Barbarigae and, on the left side of the canal, Palazzo Corner.
In the last stretch of the Canal Grande, before it flows into the San Marco basin, on the left side you can admire the white massive dome of the Chiesa della Salute (Santa Maria della Salute Church) which was built up in order to celebrate the end of the plague in 1630 on a project by Baldassarre Longhena.
At the very end of the right bank of the canal, there is the Venetian Customs House, called Dogana del Mar, a building you can recognize thanks to two bronze Atlases which shoulder a gilded globe on which the Goddess Fortuna, sculpted in the form of an elegant bronze weathervane, holds a gilded sail to the breeze.