Welcome to our new category „Venice from A to Z“. While waiting for the Architecture Biennale in Venice to start – and to inform you about many peculiarities of the lagoon city before you visit our Meeting Point – we would like to present to you our Venice ABC in the following weeks and months.
…like Rialto Bridge
Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) is a stone arch bridge over the Grand Canal in Venice. It is the oldest bridge in Venice and still in use. First bridge on that place was Ponte della Moneta. It was built in 1181 and it was a pontoon bridge. The bridge was replaced in 1255 with a wooden bridge because nearby Realto market increased traffic over it. In 1310 the bridge was damaged by fire and it collapsed in 1444. It was rebuilt as a drawbridge but it collapsed once again in 1524. After that it was decided to rebuild the bridge in stone. When, in 1551, authorities requested ideas for design of the stone bridge on the same place, some of the most famous architects of that time answered the call with their ideas (Vignola, Palladio and even Michelangelo). Problem with their ideas was that they all designed bridges with several arches, which would hinder the river traffic so they were all rejected. Single span design by Antonio da Ponte was approved and construction began in 1588. It lasted until 1591. It remained the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot until the Accademia Bridge was built in 1854. The bridge that stands today still, was designed like the bridge from 1255. It has two inclined ramps with stairs that lead to central portico, has shops on both sides and three walkways.
The palace Casa Rezzonico (Ca‘ Rezzonico) in Dorsoduro which houses the Museum of 18th-century Venice was built at the behest of the Bon family, one of the old noble families of the town. Halfway through the 17th century Filippo Bon commissioned the building from the most famous architect of his time, Baldassare Longhena. In 1750 Giambattista Rezzonicobought the building and commissioned Giorgio Massari, the fashionable architect of the time, to complete the works. The palazzo took the name of the Rezzonico family. The works were completed in just 6 years, in time to celebrate the family’s lightning rise in society, which peaked in 1758 when Carlo, Giambattista’s son, was elected pope under the name of Clement XIII. The Palace faces the Grand Canal and hosts art of 18th-century Venice.
…like Regata storica
This unique sport has been practised in the Venetian lagoon for thousands of years. It took place for the first time the 10th of January 1315 under the rule of the doge Giovanni Soranzo. Today it is particularly well-known for the spectacular historical water pageant that precedes the race every year on the first Sunday of September. The sumptuous event, organized in the Serenissima times to celebrate the military victories or to honour the foreign dignitaries, today is made up of two different parts: the historical parade and the rowing boat races. The Historical Regatta starts out with the colourful procession on water, formed by the Bissone, the Bucintoro and the boats of the venetian rowing clubs; the event commemorates the Queen of Cyprus, Caterina Cornaro, coming to Venice, which marked the beginning of the Serenissima rule over the Mediterranean islands. The historical parade has now just a picturesque importance, memory of the distant economical and political greatness of Venice on the seas, while the regattas represent still today the climax of the agonistic season in the world of the rowing alla veneta: winning that day for the rowers means to become a part of the history of this sport and, to a certain extent, of Venice.
Three key figures in Renaissance architecture were Filippo Brunelleschi, Leon Battista Alberti, and Andrea Palladio. Palladio designed three beautiful and impressive churches in Venice, San Giorgio Maggiore (1565), Il Redentore (1576) and San Francesco (1554). More important, however, was the influence of the Renaissance in art: Gentile and Jacopo Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese and others supplied the doge, the churches, nobles and wealthy citizens with great art works.