The Bridge of Sighs is one of the main symbols of Venice. It is located above the Rio di Palazzo canal near St. Mark’s Square and is enveloped in a romantic flair. Haven’t you ever wanted to ride under it on a gondola hugging your soul mate? But few tourists know what terrible secrets this place hides and how many broken lives it has seen. Then how did this bridge get such a romantic name?
There is an old legend circulating among the Venetians. It is said that the famous English poet George Byron gave such a name to the bridge. He lived here for several years, having fled from terrible scandals and huge debts, and witnessed many local events. The bridge connected the Doge’s Palace, which, in addition to the residence of the Venetian rulers, once hosted the courtroom, with the prison over the canal. The windows of the bridge were the prisoners’ last chance to see the sky before going to the prison cell for the rest of their lives. With sighs and a fleeting glance into the blue sky, they silently regretted their lost freedom.
Inside the suspended and fully enclosed bridge, there are two narrow corridors separated by a mighty wall. This design made prisoners give up any idea to escape on the way between the courtroom and the prison cell. Unfortunately, the prison building itself was not so escape-proof. Perhaps the most famous person who crossed the bridge and later managed to escape was the famous womanizer, Giacomo Casanova.
Looking at the graceful architecture of the Bridge of Sighs, it doesn’t surprise you that, over time, its name acquired a different meaning and even a more romantic tinge. Could you have guessed that such a delightful structure hides such a gruesome and sad history?
A visit to the Bridge of Sighs is included in a guided tour of the Doge’s Palace. From the small openwork stone windows of the bridge, you can see many key sights of the city like the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in the distance, or another famous bridge of Venice, Ponte della Canonica.