The first thing you should do on any visit to Venice is take a trip up the Grand Canal on any of the local water taxis that ply its snaking inverted s-shaped length. Take a trip when you arrive, and then take several more trips, in both directions, at night, at sunset, and first thing in the morning. You'll see something different each time, and the water taxis give relatively cheap entertainment in an expensive city. You can ride out on a gondola too, if you feel like splashing out.
There are beautiful buildings stretching out all along the Grand Canal, but the key sight on the journey from the Stazione to the Plaza San Marco is the Rialto bridge, striding the Canal Grande about half way up its length. This magnificent and famous bridge was originally nothing more than a floating pontoon, set down in the 12th century to serve the market on the east bank. The current stone bridge dates from 1591, and was considered such an outrageous design at the time, that it was thought it could never last very long. And yet here it still is.
The Grand Canal is Venice's main thoroughfare. Water buses and water taxis are the main transportation to navigate Venice's central districts. Visitors usually explore the canal by hiring gondalas. The canal is around 3,800m in length and approximately 30-90m in width.
The main attractions on the Grand Canal are the many palaces and buildings that were built between the 1200s to 1700s. Wealth and art were big things in the former Republic of Venice and flaunted by the noble proud venetian families.
There are three bridges on the Grand Canal with the most famous and oldest one being the Rialto Bridge.
Every year the Canal hosts the Historical Regatta.
The Grand Canal counts a number of palaces which belong to the 5* Luxe hotels.
On the left bank one finds the Gritti palace at the S.Maria del Giglio vaporetto stop, the Europa e Regina facing the Salute, the Bauer facing the Dogana to end with the most known Danieli on the basin of San Marco.
The most sumptuous from the exterior is the Palazzo Gritti from the 16th c (photo 1). I dreamed of staying in this Palazzo hotel until I read the comments on Trip Advisor:
141 comments of which 10 "terrible", 21 "poor", 18 "average", 25 "very good" and 66 "excellent".
I felt from my chair. How is it possible that a prestigious hotel like the Gritti gets 22% bad critics when guests pay between 500 and 900 €/night and only 62% of the guests recommend this hotel!
The Westin Europa & Regina (photo 2) gets a better score: on 420 comments are 20 "terrible", 34 "poor" that is 13% bad critics and 79% recommend. Prices are somewhat lower from 400 till 800 €/night.
Palazzo Bauer (photo 3) gets the best score from these 4 Luxe Palace hotels: on 359 comments 12 are "terrible", 19 "poor" that is 9% bad critics; 86% recommend. Prices between 500 and 1000 € (this is for the Palazzo on the Grand Canal, there are lower prices for the building in the back called Bauer hotel).
These 3 palace hotels have private terraces with restaurants directly on the Grand Canal and their own embarcadero for the water taxis.
For the most famous Danieli on 383 critics 29 are "terrible", 34 "poor" that is a total of 16% bad critics; 73% recommend. Price between 400 and 700€/night. As you can see from my photo the hotel occupies 3 buildings (photo 4). The ochre one in the middle has the monumental hall and staircase. The Danieli has no terrace on the water but on the roof. The entrance is on the very crowded quay with souvenir shops for tourists (photo 5).
The prices I mention are from Expedia, Westin and Bauer for the period of May 2011.
The lowest are for standard rooms (no view) the higher ones for de luxe rooms but not necessarily with a Canal or Lagoon view. The rooms with good views are generally suites with prices between 1000 and 2000 €/night.
What I find terrible is that 5* Luxe hotels in Venice are unable to obtain a minimum of 95% satisfaction from customers who pay such high prices. What is even more terrible when you read the critics of their guests are the many complaints about bad service!
If I was a rich man I would buy this palace on the Grand Canal close to the Salute and facing the beautiful Palazzo Corner della Ca' Grande.
From my first visit to Venice in the 1970's my wife and I liked this palace with a façade covered with mosaics from Murano what makes it unique in Venice.
It was originally built in the 16th century but the mosaics were added in 1886 by the new owners who had a company producing glass art in Murano (Compagnia Venezia Murano now Pauly & C). The transformation with the mosaics was not appreciated by the neighbours of the palace who found this bad taste of "nouveaux riches".
It needs to be said that Palazzo Barbarigo is located on the Grand Canal in the Dorsoduro sestiere at the junction with the Rio San Vio.
Actually as discussed with MM212 there are several Palazzo Barbarigo in Venice.
Most confusing is Hotel Palazzo Barbarigo which was also called Barbarigo della Terrazza Palace located on the Grand Canal but in the Sestiere San Polo at the junction with the rio San Polo (near the S. Toma vaporetto stop).
There is also a Palazzo Barbarigo-Minotto on the other side of the Canal near the S. Maria del Giglio vaporetto stop where classical music including opera's is played.
To make it more confusing there is also a Palazzo Barbarigo Nani in the Dorsoduro sestiere near the campo di San Trovaso.
Palaces with the same family name are rather common in Venice. It's part of the game finding the right one. The Palazzo Barbarigo with the mosaics cannot be missed.
Famous for the Murano glass mosaics covering its Grand Canal façade, Palazzo Barbarigo is one of the most unique in Venice. It was built in the 16th century, but its façade was not covered in mosaics until the 19th century. The owners of Palazzo Barbarigo had the mosaics custom made at their family's very own glass factory on Murano Island.
NOTE: the Palazzo Barbarigo I describe is NOT the same as the hotel with the same name. For information about the hotel, go to their website at: www.palazzobarbarigo.it.
Venice's Grand Canal is the main "water road" running through the heart of the city. From Piazza San Marco to the Santa Lucia train station, the S-shaped canal covers a distance of about 3.8 km. Because of the heavy water traffic, building on the Grand Canal was a way for Venitian citizens and parishes to show off their wealth and importance - for this reason, the canal is bordered on both sides by beautiful palazzi and some of the city's nicest churches. A really great way to see these colourful buildings is to take one of the vaporetto lines that goes up the Grand Canal (see my transportation tips). Apart from the Rialto Bridge, there are three more bridges crossing the Grand Canal: the Ponte degli Scalzi, the Ponte dell'Accademia, and the Ponte della Constituzione. The latter is the most recent of the bridges - it was built in 2008 to connect the bus station to the train station, and its design is surprisingly modern and therefore rarely appreciated by visitors and locals alike. Other than this "sore thumb" feature, however, the Grand Canal and its surrounding architecture greatly contribute to making Venice one of the most beautiful cities in the world!
One of the best ways to see the wonderful palazzas along the grand canal is to take a vaporetto ride. Grab a seat with a view near the end of the line and enjoy a ride up or down the length of the canal. The ticket will cost you 6.50 Euro, if you don't have a pass, and is a great way to relax and see the sites.
Give yourself a second treat and take the same ride at dusk or after dark for another perspective of the palazzi when they're lit up.
If ever there was a "pinch me, am I really here" moment, the Grand Canal is it.
REVISED for 2010: No revision necessary for that statement. Yes, I'd been there before and gone down the Grand Canal. But it's not any less surreal or magnificent. Muscle your way to the front of the Vaparetto to one of the few seats on either side of the boat and you're in for a treat. The pics and video I took from here may be the best photo memories I've captured on this trip. Just remember to put down the camera a few times and simply enjoy the beauty and splendor of this marvel. There's nothing like the Grand Canal in the world. Enjoy it.
As the main attraction of Venice is its canals,it is only expected to experience fully the canal scene via a gondola ride - through the grande canal!
We walked a couple of hours from Piazzale Roma after riding a bus from our hotel using a pre-paid daily ticket for the four of us.
Then after the exhaustion from the heat of the daym we decided to ride the gondola- paid 100 euros for the privilege! This sounded a bit steep but we were really tired so we opted for this tour. our gondolier was friendly enough and told us a lot of facts about Venice itself. He said Venice has more than 180 canals and he would to take us to some of the smaller ones before going through the main Grande Canal which is the centre of the main island of Venice. The canals are accessible by foot via its more than 400 bridges accdg to Matin.
Built for the nobility of Venice in the olden days, each gondola costs about 35,000 euros accdg to Matin oir gondolier. he said the gondola was mnade alkso for thre nobility- particularly the owners of the Doge Palace which is in the Grande Canal.
We sailed through various historical buildings- artistic, culturally and socially important part of Venetian society.
It is not to be missed. As, what's the point of going to canal-packed Venice if you will not try sailing through its waters? Ciao for now!
Considered one of the most beautiful Renaissance-style palazzi in Venice, Ca' Vendramin Calergi was designed by the architect Mauro Codussi and completed in 1509. It was commissioned by the Loredan family, but was sold and changed hands numerous times in the following centuries. Among them are the Vendramin-Calergi families whose names remained attached to the palazzo. Nowadays it serves as il Casinó municipale di Venezia. It is overlooking the Grand Canal in the Cannaregio sestiere.
One of Venice's oldest surviving palazzi, Ca' Da Mosto was built in the 13th century by the Da Mosto family. Originally, the palazzo was composed of two floors, the canal level and the piano nobile, both of which have conserved the Veneto-Byzantine arches which were typical for that period. During a later-period restoration, the two top floors were added, and between the 16th and 18th centuries, the building was converted into what became Venice's most famous hotel, l'Albergo Leon Bianco. The palace is currently empty awaiting restoration.
This unique Renaissance style palace, Palazzo dei Camerlenghi, lies adjacent to Ponte di Rialto, right on the Grand Canal. It was built in 1528 by the architect Giuglielmo dei Grigi as the seat of the Camerlenghi, the magistrates running the Venetian Treasury. Unusual for Venice, the edifice is detached from other buildings and follows an octagonal plan with not a single façade, but a decorated exterior that follows the length of the building. At the time of its construction, the palazzo was covered in coloured decorations, much of which has faded over time. The interior of the palace once possessed some of Venice's richest collection of artwork, which was removed during the Napoleonic occupation. Only some of this artwork was returned to Venice, though placed in buildings and museums other than its original home. Nowadays, il Palazzo dei Camerlenghi serves as a government building.