The Bridge of Sighs in Venice
The “Ponte dei Sospiri” or “Bridge of Sighs” is an enclosed limestone bridge in baroque style located next to the Doge’s Palace in Venice, Italy. It was commissioned by the Doge Marino Grimani, whose family coat-of-arms can be seen in the centre of the facade.
This famous bridge is one of the most known, photographed and admired landmarks of Venice. However, it is probably also the most misunderstood!
The Truth about the Bridge of Sighs in Venice
Venice is always described as a romantic city. Some say it is the most romantic city in the world. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that this bridge, thanks also to its evocative name, is so appreciated by couples who stop to take a picture of themselves kissing in front of it.
However, there is something you might want to know: the sighs the bridge refers to are not of love, but of resignation and despair! In fact, for some, the Bridge of Sighs was the last bridge they would ever cross…
Built by Antonio Contin in 1614, the “Ponte dei Sospiri” connected directly the inquisitors’ offices in the Doge’s Palace to the “New Prisons”, the first building in the world to be designed specifically to serve only for detention.
Unfortunately, at the time of the Serenissima detention often meant death, due to the hard conditions, the humidity, and the cold within the stone walls of prison.
Therefore, the name of the bridge refers to the heavy sighs of convicts who, crossing the bridge to go to prison, knew they were probably seeing Venice for the last time…
Convicts were not just loosing their liberty. They knew that, often, they would also lose their lives.
Now, you might understand why Venetians giggle when couples kiss and sigh in front of it: the sighs of the Ponte dei Sospiri are about the loss of freedom (and life)… and that is hopefully not what the couple’s sighs are about!
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