Venice is a city unlike any other, with canals where streets should be, grand palaces seemingly rising out of the water and of course water shimmering everywhere. No matter how many times you have seen it in pictures, the real thing is definitely more exquisite and dreamlike. The Grand Canal is the most important canal in Italy and serves as the main street of Venice, not only does it connect most of the city’s top attractions but it is a top attraction on its own. A Grand Canal fact that most visitors might not know is that 60% of the traffic in Venice passes through it. The reverse S-shaped canal snaking through the city of Venice is always busy with traffic, used not only by the famous touristy gondolas, but also by vaporetto’s and barges.
Tourists will find that there are just two ways to get around Venice, on foot or by boat. Filled with countless mazelike alleys and small squares, getting lost in the narrow alleyways is quintessentially part of exploring Venice, in addition to touring Venice’s Grand Canal which is essentially the most important activity on any and all tourists lists of things to do in Venice. Hopping onto a gondola and exploring the magnificent sites around the Grand Canal is every travelers dream come true.
Tourists exploring Venice’s Grand Canal will find that both sides of the canal are lined with magnificent palaces which were actually homes of wealthy families, in fact in Venice’s heyday when the city was a wealthy trading center between Europe and the orient, anyone of importance had to have a palace facing the Grand Canal. These impressive homes with highly decorative exteriors reflect centuries of history and represent many styles of architecture from the 12th to the early 18th century. Tourists planning on taking a Grand Canal tour in Venice will find the best way to see and appreciate all these magnificent palaces is by taking a vaporetto or a gondola from San Marco to Porta Roma.
Indulging in a gondola ride along the Grand Canal in Venice, especially if it is your first trip down the famous waterway is an experience not to be missed as it is considered to be the ultimate Venetian experience. Taking the time to sit back and take in all the stunning architecture and the city’s unique atmosphere is simply a great way to start a holiday in Venice. Tourists should however know that although at one time gondolas were the main means of transport in Venice, today the vaporetto is the more commonly used mode of transport in Venice’s Grand Canal. These water buses or taxis vary in size and comfort and those choosing to tour the Grand Canal could either choose route 1 or 2; as it runs the entire length of the canal.
The vaporetto leaving San Marco will head across the mouth of the Grand Canal, and along the way tourists will be able to spot several grand palaces. Palazzo Corner Della Ca’ Grande is possibly one of the finest examples of renaissance architecture in Venice and like all the palaces in Venice, Ca’ Grande built in 1545 was definitely meant to impress with all its ornate details. Palazzo Grassi, Ca’ Foscari, Ca‘d’ Oro, Ca’ Pesaro, and Palazzo Vendramin-Calergi are some of the other palaces along the Grand Canal that tourists will come across when touring it. Many of these impressive buildings now house museums, and tourists can visit these establishments and check out the art or historical exhibits displayed within.In addition to all the incredibly beautiful palazzos, tourists exploring the Grand Canal will also come across a number of bridges connecting the many islands of Venice. While Rialto Bridge is one of the most renowned bridges in Venice, visitors will come across a number of other lovely arched wooden, metal or stone bridges along the Grand Canal. With around 400 bridges connecting its 118 islands, it will not come as a surprise that Venice is often referred to as the City of Bridges, while another popular name it is known as is the City of Canals or even the Floating City.