Canal Grande (Grand Canal)

Canal Grande Main road of Venice

Canal Grande – the Grand Canal

The most beautiful avenue in the world

The Canal Grande (Grand Canal) is the main artery of Venice. Like an inverted “S” it meanders through the centre of Venice and divides the lagoon city into two halves. You can cross the canal in four places: the Ponte dell’Accademia in the south, the Rialto Bridge in the centre, the Ponte Scalzi at the station and the Ponte della Liberta, which crosses the Grand Canal at the northern exit and is the only connection to the mainland. As one might expect of a major traffic route, there is always a lot going on along the Grand Canal. Water taxis, vaporettos, gondolas, barges, excursion boats, ferries and motor boats head up and down the canal day and night. Venice’s most important traffic route is lined by more than 200 palaces and 15 churches. No wonder that the Venetians often call the Grand Canal “Canalzzo” (a combination of “canal” and “palazzo”). There are plenty of reasons to jump into a boat and take a trip down the fantastic canal.

From the Santa Lucia train station to the Rialto Bridge

If you board one of the many ferries or a sightseeing boat at the Santa Lucia train station and go on a boat trip down the canal, you can admire a lot of palaces and churches whose beautiful and prestigious facades face the canal.

  • The Chiesa degli Scalzi is located just to the left of the station and is a work by the famous baroque architect Baldassare Longhena. Now you will pass the Ponte Scalzi – the most recently built of the three pedestrian bridges over the canal.
  • Just a few metres before the Canal di Cannaregio joins the Canal Grande on the left-hand side, the church of San Geremia rises up next to the canal. Behind the church you can see the four-floor Palazzo Labia. Inside the palace there is a magnificent ceiling paining by Tiepolo.
  • A little further on you can see the brick facade of the church of San Marcula from the 18th century on the left-hand side. On the opposite side is the Fondaco dei Turchi, the former Turkish trading house with the Natural History Museum of Venice.
  • The Palazzo Vendramin Calergi on the left-hand side is without doubt one of the most beautiful palaces in Venice. It was built by Mauro Coducci and houses the Venice Casino.
  • Now you should turn your attention to the right-hand side of the canal. First you will pass the church of San Staè from the 17th century. It was endowed by the Doge Alvise Mocenigo II who is also buried here. Immediately afterwards you can see the great baroque palace of Ca’ Pesaro and the impressive baroque Palazzo Corner della Regina. The Venetian-born Caterina Corner, who later became the Queen of Cyprus, once lived here.
  • On the left-hand side you can now enjoy the view of the most famous building in Venice: the Ca’ d’Oro – the Golden House with its beautiful exterior.
  • Shortly afterwards you will pass the Venice fish market on the right-hand side before reaching the Rialto Bridge.
  • Immediately in front of the Rialto Bridge, the famous Fondaco dei Tedeschi, the German trading house on the left and the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi on the right-hand side deserve special attention. The latter is the seat of the Venetian treasury.

From the Rialto Bridge to the Piazza San Marco

From the Rialto Bridge, the former commercial centre of Venice, the journey continues towards the lagoon.

  • Already from a distance you can see the three-floor Palazzo Grimani high above the other houses of the canal. It was built in the 16th century by Sanmicheli.
  • Now you should turn your attention to the upcoming canal bend. On the right-hand side rises the beautiful Palazzo Balbi with its two steeples on the roof. Just at the end of the Rio Foscari, the Ca’ Foscari is one of the finest examples of the Venetian late Gothic architectural style.
  • Now you can see the classical-looking Palazzo Grassi on the left-hand side and the Ca’ Rezzonico baroque palace on the right.
  • You will now approach the next bridge, the Ponte dell’Accademia. To the left of the bridge you can see the Gallerie dell’Accademia.
  • Immediately after the bridge you will have a great view of the two late Gothic palaces Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti and Palazzo Barbaro on the left-hand side.
  • Further on you will pass the Collezione Peggy Guggenheim on the right-hand side. Diagonally opposite is the Palazzo Corner. The beautiful Renaissance palace was also owned by the Corner family and was built by Sansovino.
  • The impressive Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute is located just before the Canal Grande flows into the lagoon at St. Mark’s Square.
  • At the end of the Canal Grande, the bronze goddess of fortune watches over the Dogana da Mar tower.

Before the ship stops at St. Mark’s Square you can take a good look at the rear facade of the Procuratie Nuovo.



From anywhere in Venice

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