Bridge of Sighs

Ponte dei Sospiri

Looking down towards the Bridge of Sighs

I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs,
A palace and a prison on each hand:
I saw from out the wave her structures rise
As from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand:
A thousand years their cloudy wings expand
Around me, and a dying Glory smiles
O’er the far times, when many a subject land
Looked to the wingéd Lion’s marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles! Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Designed by Antonio Contino (nephew of Antonio da Ponte) and built in 1600, this white Istrian limestone bridge over the Rio di Palazzo was built to link the Prigioni Nuove (New Prison) to the State Inquisitors’ office and built-in torture chamber (which can be visited on the Secret Itinerary) in the Palazzo Ducale. During the tour, you can have the same view as the prisoners, who would look out of its barred windows at the beauty of Venice and the lagoon for one last time before being locked up.

The bridge's romantic name was bestowed by none other than Lord Byron, which inspired a story that lovers will be granted eternal love if they kiss on a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs at sunset during the ringing of the bells of St Mark's Campanile, which in turn inspired the 1979 French-American film I love you, je t'aime (also known as A little romance) starring Laurence Olivier.

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