The largest waterway in Venice
The Canale Grande is almost 4 km (2.5 mi) long and the largest waterway in Venice. Therefore, it is the most important traffic route. The canal runs through the whole city and divides it into two parts. On the left side, one finds the districts San Marco, Cannaregio and Castello and on the other side of the Canal, there are the parts Dorsoduro, San Polo and Santa Croce. The Canal Grande is between 30 to 70m (33 to 77 mi) wide and is approximately 5m (5.5 yd) deep. There are several smaller waterways branching off the canal. Most of the waterway junctions offer views on magnificent and palatial buildings belonging to affluent Venetian families. Along the Canal Grande there are also many houses of the nobility to be seen.
There are four bridges one can cross the Canal Grande on. The first one, the Rialto bridge, is the oldest and was built in the 16th century. Although there are many bridges to be used for transportation, the vaporetti and the gondolas still remain the most used means of transportation in Venice.
The venetian houses
Due to the fact that Venice is crossed by waterways and is generally surrounded by water, it offers a particular architectural style. Venetian houses are amazingly built on a foundation consisting of oak stilts, which are positioned deep down on the ground. As the ground consists mostly of sand, houses are usually built in a light and delicate way. On their ground floors, most Venetian buildings and houses are facilitated with so-called water floors. This is where goods were delivered and stored to be shipped from. This architectural speciality originates in the fact that most Venetian families had a long merchant tradition. On the upper floors, there were living spaces accommodating the families including their menial staff as well as the kitchen, which was located on the attic. The kitchen had its position directly under roof, because in case a fire broke out the rest of the building could mostly be saved from entirely burning down. In addition, the roofs were enhanced with small balconies or roof-terraces, the so-called wooden altanes.
Visit the Canale Grande
In the past years, the roads near the Rialto bridge have been rebuilt to a large promenade, which one can amble along at nights and enjoy the particular Italian atmosphere.
How to get there
By public transport
The vaporetto lines 1 and 82 operate on the Canal Grande on a daily basis. If you have not been to Venice before, these lines are very much suitable for a first introductory and orientation tour.
Having a stroll through Venice on foot, it is almost impossible to miss the Canal Grande, as most roads will lead towards it.