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The Grand Canal

The Grand Canal

The Grand Canal in Venice

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The Grand Canal – Canal Grande, or Canalazzo, as the Venetians also call it – is the main canal of the city.
It is 2.3 miles long and it forms a backward "S" that divides the old town centre into two parts. Up until the 19th century, only the Rialto Bridge crossed the Grand Canal, but today there are three more bridges: the Ponte degli Scalzi, the Ponte dell'Accademia and the controversial Calatrava's Bridge (or Ponte della Costituzione), built in 2008.
Being the largest canal, the Grand Canal has remained just as important for the city's business and traffic, but it has also witnessed a strong increase in tourism: the result is a very lively waterway, used by lots of motorboats and typical Venetian gondolas.
 
To go from end to end of the canal you can choose between a vaporetto (a steamboat) or a gondola.
The first is provided by the public transportation system and makes 17 stops:
- Piazzale Roma
- Ferrovia
- Riva de Biasio
- S. Marcuola
- San Stae
- Ca' d'Oro
- Rialto Mercato
- Rialto
- San Silvestro
- Sant'Angelo
- San Tomà / Frari
- Ca' Rezzonico
- San Samuele / Palazzo Grassi
- Accademia
- Santa Maria del Giglio
- Salute
- San Marco Vallaresso
 
Visitors eagerly hop on a boat and travel up and down the Grand Canal to admire the 170 historic buildings rising from its waters: in fact, much of Venice's beauty can be seen only from a boat, as it is unaccessible by foot.
These palaces, beautifully decorated in different styles (depending on the historic period), are called fondaci and were generally used as warehouses and store-houses. They thus have their main entrance and facade right on the water, as all trade was done by boat. Among the most famous and significant fondaci are the Fondaco dei Turchi (Turks Fondaco), the Fondaco dei Tedeschi (Germans Fondaco) and the Ca' d'Oro (Golden House).
Other wonderful buildings that can be admired from the Canal include Ca' Pesaro, Ca' Rezzonico and the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, with its majestic cupola overlooking the whole canal.
 
The basilica is the setting of the beautiful Feast-day of the Madonna della Salute: on November 21st, a procession to the church is held and a temporary bridge made of boats is created for the pilgrims to cross the Grand Canal.
Another special event is held on the canal on the first Sunday of September: the Historical Regatta, a competition between Venetian boats, watched by thousands of people from the banks and the floating platforms.

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Gondolas, canals, lights and colors ... this is Venice, the ancient city on the water, known worldwide for its architectural beauty and its mysterious and romantic atmosphere.

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