The Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge was built in the second half of the 16th century and it spans the Grand Canal
If you don't like cars, go to Venice. If you don't like big crowds, don't go to Venice
In 1989 I was scheduled to visit Venice in Italy. However, I got ill and had to cancel the visit. Now during Easter I decided to try again, 24 years after the failure back when I was a teenager. This time things worked better. In one way I am actually happy I couldn’t go the first time I tried. Venice is an amazing city and I am not sure that Ake aged 18 would not have been able to enjoy it as much he did now at the age of 42.
As I stated above, Venice is an amazing city. That is especially true if you are either an art buff or a history lover. The art, the historical buildings and the architecture are all good reasons to go to Venice. But what I found just as interesting is the layout of the city. Venice is built on islands and the islands are crisscrossed with canals. Whenever a street meets a canal there is a bridge. So walking around in Venice what you see is canals and bridges and that
View over Grand Canal
A view over the Grand Canal as seen from one of the other bridges in Venice
makes Venice a city very different from any other city I have been to. There are no cars and not even any bicycles or mopeds. The bridges are built for pedestrians only and if you want to pass with a vehicle with wheels on it you have to carry it across. Instead the major means of transports is with boats along the canals.
Of all the bridges in Venice there is one that will be remembered by everybody who sees it - the Rialto Bridge
. The Rialto Bridge was built in the second half of the 16th century. It was a very expensive bridge but they sure got a nice looking bridge for the money they spent. Today the Rialto Bridge is a compulsory stop for every visitor to Venice.
Another place in Venice that attracts many visitors is the St Mark's Square
or Piazza San Marco as the locals prefer to call it. In Venice the streets are very narrow and the houses are built very close to each other. St Mark's Square is one of very few places in the city where there is a large open area. Ironically the largest open place in Venice is the very place where
Venice is built on islands and the islands are crisscrossed with canals
you are most likely to suffer from claustrophobia because during the day and in the evenings the square is packed with people. When I visited Venice it was off season so the crowds where tolerable. But I guess in summer it is a place you should stay away from unless you like big crowds very much.
At one end of St Mark’s square is the St Mark’s basilica
. It is probably the largest of all the churches in Venice and it definitely is the most visited. Even on a rainy Thursday morning in off season there is a long line of people standing outside waiting to get in.
At the time when I visited Venice they were renovating the exterior of the St Mark’s basilica so I unfortunately didn’t see much of the decorations on the façade. But the interior is interesting too. There are several large gilded mosaics and the Pala d’Oro, a large artwork covered with gold and precious stones, is also worth seeing.
At the St Mark's Square there are several other buildings that are worth more than a casual look, for instance the St Mark's Clocktower
and the St Mark's Campanile
Next to St Mark’s basilica is the
What you see is canals and bridgesDoge’s Palace
Walking around in Venice what you see is canals and bridges. Venice is very different from any other city I have been to
, which once upon a time was both a place of power, being home to the most powerful individual in Venice, the Doge, and a place of justice, since it also housed courts. Behind the Doge’s Palace is the former prison of Venice. Between the prison and the courthouse there is a bridge, Bridge of Sighs
, where the prisoners, after they had been convicted, had to walk to get from the courthouse to the prison.
In Venice there is an astonishingly large number of churches and palaces. They are the leftovers from a period when Venice was the capital of the Republic of Venice, and was also very powerful and very rich. Power and wealth were in those days displayed by erecting grand buildings. They erected palaces to show off the wealth for people and they built churches to ensure a place in heaven.
Not only could the Venetians be lavish with the cash when it came to building stuff, they sure knew how to spend the dough when it came to art as well. The churches all house fine art and there are several art museums in town as well. I went to one museum called Gallerie dell’Accademia. There
Whenever a street meets a canal there is a bridge.
are probably several paintings in that museum that I should have seen while being there but I was only interested in one, the Feast in the House of Levi
by Paolo Veronese. That painting has an interesting history. It was commissioned by a Venetian section of the Dominican order to be placed in one of their halls. The painting was originally named The Last Supper but had to be renamed because the scene pictured deviates quite a lot from what people in general imagine how the last meal Jesus had with his disciples might have looked like. In the picture there are drunken people, children, waiters and a dog among other things.
Some of you reading this might know of the Monty Python sketch The Last Supper. This painting is what that sketch is based upon. So I have seen a painting that has inspired a Monty Python sketch and I think that is pretty cool.
The Monty Python sketch is absolutely hilarious and if you don’t know it you can see it if you follow this link
. If the previous link doesn’t work you can try this link
and scroll down the list until you find one that looks about right.
One thing I find amazing
St Mark's Square
A place in Venice that attracts many visitors is the St Mark's Square
in Venice is that so many houses actually sits in the water. How do they manage to keep the buildings from collapsing? What mortar do they use and how do they build to make sure to keep the water out and prevent mould from groving? I have heard of people who have problems with rats in their basement. In Venice I guess they occasionally have problems with cod in the basements.
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