Pictures & photos of the Grand Canal, Venice Italy. Venice is divided into two halves by The Grand Canal which snakes in an s shape through the centre of the city. With an average depth of 5 Mts. (16 ft) the Grand Canal was deep enough for trading ships to moor outside the 170 Venetian merchants palaces that line the canal on both side. The Venetian merchants spent vast amounts to decorate their palaces along the Grand Canal to show their wealth & success as great traders with the east. The ground floors of the Palaces were store and trading rooms with living quarters above.
Venice was originally founded on the island of Torcello. The island was plagued with malaria bearing Mosquitos so the inhabitants moved to Fondemente Nova , present day Venice, which is surrounded by salt water where mosquitoes cannot live. The first houses were built around present day Rialto. Wood piles were driven into the sand of the low island on top of which houses could be built above the water level. As Venice became more successful the founding patrician families built bigger and bigger buildings on thousands of wood piles driven into the mud banks of the island. The Grand Canal still has well preserved Palaces from the 12th & 13th century like the Ca'farsetti which have loggias with the Romanesque round arches of the Venetian Byzantine style. After the sack of Constantinople in 1204 , which was instigated by Doge Enrico Dandolo, vast amounts of booty was shipped back to Venice. Byzantine sculptures and columns were built into the facades of the palaces and the oriental style brought from Constantinople led to the 13th century Venetian Gothic palaces of the Grand Canal. The Style is typified by the pointed arches and fine tracery of the loggias and balconies of the Palaces.
In the 14th century the Renaissance style arrived in Venice In 1527 with the architect Sensovino arrived from Rome bringing a more classical style which he employed in the design of the Palazzo Corner & Palazzo Dolfin Manin. The renaissance was succeeded by the building of Baroque Palaces which in turn were followed by Neo Classical designs. The Grand Canal is lined the high art from all the great architectural periods up to the 19th century.
In the middle of the Grand Canal is the iconic Rialto Bridge which spans the canal in a single arch. Completed in 1591 by Antonio da Ponte, the audacious design required thousands of wood piles being driven into the ground 100 meters each side of the bridge to support it's weight. The Rialto is still the only stone bridge to cross the Grand Canal.