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Canals of Venice - The Grand Canal

What can one say about the Grand Canal? This Venice canal is perhaps the greatest avenue in the world! A little strange it may be—a major street made out of water yet lined with some of the greatest buildings on earth—but this is an enchanting place.

Grand Canal Venice by Alexander Strahilov

The Grand Canal is way more impressive than any of the other canals in Venice. It is on a much grander scale and far larger than any other, being two miles long (3.5 km) and, at its widest point, over 350 feet (90m) wide.

In centuries past, this was the place to live, and in fact, this is still the address to have. Any merchant who made it in the world of business had his home here.

Most of the beautiful buildings along the canal originate from this quest by the Venetian rich to outdo the neighbor's place next door, and how little things have changed today.

Now comes a little bit of history for all the history buffs and all those who visit my site for homework answers.

The styles of houses along the canal are varied. Some of the earliest are the old Fondaco houses, the homes of the first merchants, which included a warehouse for their trading businesses.

In later centuries, these were followed by buildings of Byzantine style, and once the influence of the Ottomans had declined, Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance architecture predominated. Little has changed over the last two or three hundred years; you'll see pretty much the same thing someone three hundred years ago would have seen.

It was in the 12th century that the first bridge over the canal was built. This was replaced in the 16th century by the famous Rialto Bridge which remained the only bridge over the Grand Canal until the 19th century.

Our Grand Canal Venice Tip

Still the best way to see the canal and fairly cheap too, is to take a water bus, known as a vaporetto in Italian. The number one bus does the route, and it provides a stunning ride through the centuries; just make sure you take your camera along.

If you would prefer to enjoy the canal in a little more style than the public bus/boat offers, then this is the answer.

Oh, and if you want to cross over the Grand Canal support a wonderful tradition by taking one of the ferry gondolas called a traghetto. Here is more about this beautiful way to cross this greatest of all the Venice Canals.

For more incredible facts about Venice click here.


🚩 Stroll across the Rialto Bridge, take a ride on a traditional gondola along the Grand Canal, see St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace and other magnificent places in just a day!

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Questions about the Grand Canal

Q: Why is the Grand Canal in Venice so famous?

A: The Grand Canal is renowned for its grandeur, historical significance, and captivating beauty. It is considered the main thoroughfare of Venice, lined with magnificent palaces and iconic landmarks, making it a symbol of the city's unique charm.

Q: What is the traffic like on the Grand Canal?

A: The Grand Canal is a bustling waterway with various types of vessels navigating its waters. From traditional gondolas gliding along its surface to water taxis, vaporettos (water buses), and even cargo boats, the canal is a beautiful, crazy and very lively hub of maritime activity.

Q: How many bridges cross the Grand Canal, and what are some notable ones?

A: There are four bridges that span the Grand Canal: the Rialto Bridge, Accademia Bridge, Scalzi Bridge, and Constitution Bridge (also known as Calatrava Bridge). These bridges not only provide essential connections across the canal but also offer stunning viewpoints to admire the canal's beauty. For a great story of what the bridges of Venice mean to locals, click here.

Q: Is the water quality of the Grand Canal good?

A: The water quality of the Grand Canal has been a subject of concern in recent years. While efforts have been made to improve the canal's environmental conditions, factors such as pollution and the impact of tides can affect water quality.

The quality is a lot better than it once was but don't do something crazy like go for a swim. You wouldn't believe how often I am asked about that. If you want to swim go to one of these best beaches closest to Venice. 

If you've some other crazy question about Italy, you might well find I've already answered it here.

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