A walk through romantic canals to discover Venice’s countless bridges
(by Biser Todorov, CC BY 4.0 Wikimedia Commons)
Also known as the Calatrava Bridge, it is the pedestrian bridge spanning Venice’s Grand Canal between Piazzale Roma and the Venice Sainte Lucy train station.
The bridge, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and built using mainly steel and glass, was opened to pedestrian traffic on September 11, 2008.
The design shows an arcuate-shaped bridge with a span of 81 meters, a width of 6 meters at the base and 9 meters in the middle for a height of 10 meters at the apex. The structure is made of steel, the floors of glass by Saint-Gobain, Istrian stone and classic grey trachyte from Montemerlo. The parapets are also made of glass, with brass handrails. Inside the railing are LED bulbs that dissipate the light beam into the glass parapets.
The bridge is 94 meters long from the steps while it has a central width of 81 meters. The width varies from 5.58 meters to 9.38 meters in the central part. The height varies from 3.20 meters on the banks to 9.28 meters. The main steel arch, a structural element of the bridge, has a radius of 180 meters.
In August 2008, Mayor Massimo Cacciari proposed naming the Spanish architect’s work the “Constitution Bridge” as a tribute to the fundamental law of the Italian state, whose 60th anniversary was being celebrated that year. With the occasion, the mayor also proposed renaming Piazzale Roma (a toponym assigned in the fascist era) after the antifascist Silvio Trentin, noting, however, the difficulties consequent to changing a strongly rooted and well-known name.
Previously, the mayor had proposed in the City Council the name ” bridge de la Zirada” since the bridge is located at the initial bend of the Grand Canal, formerly called “zirada” in the Venetian language (in fact, the church of Sant’Andrea Della Zirada, now completely incorporated into the automobile terminal in Piazzale Roma, is located a short distance away). After the ashlars of the bridge had been laid, other hypotheses about the name had circulated. This included the ” bridge of the Two Saints,” in reference to the name of the two foundations joined by the bridge, that of Sainte Clare and that of Sainte Lucy; “Sabbadino bridge,” in honour of the master builder who in the 16th century conceived the idea of a new bridge over the Grand Canal in approximately the same location.
On September 4, 2008, the mayor announced that by the city council’s decision, the new bridge would be called the “Constitution Bridge.” In common usage, however, the use of the designer’s name and, thus, “Calatrava bridge” has prevailed to refer to the bridge.
The organizational design was presented in 1997 by renowned architect, sculptor and engineer Santiago Calatrava to the city of Venice. Calatrava is the author of other famous bridges, such as the Puente de la Mujer in Buenos Aires, the Puente del Alamillo on the Guadalquivir River, and the Oberbaumbrücke in Berlin. In 1999 the project was revised to be approved. However, work began in 2003 and took much longer than planned (almost six years).
Today it is notorious for the numerous falls that Venetian citizens and tourists are subject to, which have named it the de facto “slipperiest bridge” in Venice.