Mysteries of the Bridge of Sighs

Unraveling the Secrets and Legends of Venice's Iconic Landmark

The Bridge of Sighs is an Italian bridge in Venice. The enclosed bridge is composed of white limestone, has stone bars in the windows, crosses the Rio di Palazzo, and connects the New Prison to the interrogation chambers of the Doge’s Palace. Antonio Contino, whose uncle Antonio da Ponte created the Rialto Bridge, designed it. It was constructed around 1600.


Convicts enjoyed the last vista of Venice from the Bridge of Sighs before being imprisoned. Lord Byron gave the bridge its English name in the 19th century as a translation from the Italian “Ponte dei sospiri,” implying that convicts would sigh at their final look of lovely Venice through the window before being brought down to their cells.

Bridge of Sighs in Italy
Bridge of Sighs in Italy

In culture

Numerous other bridges around the world are known by the name “Bridge of Sighs; for more information, see the Bridge of Sighs.

The bridge’s name appears as the title of Jacques Offenbach’s 1861 opera Le Pont des soupirs.

The Bridge of Sighs is prominently featured in the narrative of the 1979 film A Little Romance. According to one of the characters, if a couple of kisses in a gondola beneath the Bridge of Sighs in Venice at sunset as the church bells toll, they will be in love forever.

Bridge of Sighs is the title of English rock guitarist and composer Robin Trower’s second solo studio album, released in April 1974.

The Small Faces’ “Itchycoo Park” begins with a reference to A Bridge of Sighs.

The English progressive rock band Marillion discusses this bridge in their song Jigsaw.

This bridge is also mentioned by Giles Corey, an American slowcore band, in their song No One Is Ever Going to Want Me.

H. H. Richardson, a well-known American architect, was inspired by the bridge when building a section of the Allegheny County Jail complex in Pittsburgh, PA. It was finished in 1888 and has a similar enclosed arched corridor that connects the courthouse and jail, thus the name.

View of Bridge of Sighs
View of Bridge of Sighs

History of the Bridge of Sighs

When the Bridge of Sighs and the adjacent structures of New Court were built in the nineteenth century, St John’s College (established in 1511) was already more than three centuries old. Until then, the entire campus of Cambridge College was on the east bank of the river, making St John’s the first to expand its accommodation westwards into the ‘Backs’.

Henry Hutchinson, a protégé and business associate of Gothic revivalist Thomas Rickman, designed the new buildings and bridge in 1827. The enlargement was dubbed ‘New Court’ since it was the newest component of the College. The entire project was finished in 1831, just months before Hutchinson died.

The extension connecting New Court on the west to keep money with the seventeenth-century Third Court on the east bank was officially named “New Scaffold.” Notwithstanding, episodically, it became known as ‘the Extension of Moans,’ a reference to the popular encased span that interfaces the ducal castle to the jail in Venice, Italy.

History of the Bridge of Sighs
History of the Bridge of Sighs

The architecture of the Bridge of Sighs

The ornate bridge is composed of white limestone from Istria in modern-day Croatia, as is typical of most Renaissance-era architecture in Venice. Antonio Contino, the architect, was the nephew and apprentice of Antonio da Ponte, the designer of Venice’s most renowned bridge, the Rialto Bridge.

The arched bridge isn’t open to the elements like many of the city’s bridges, and it only has two small rectangular windows with a lattice-like screen. Inside, a stone wall splits the interior into two small halls, ensuring that convicts coming and exiting never cross paths.

The architecture of the Bridge of Sighs
The architecture of the Bridge of Sighs

Best Time to Visit Bridge of Sighs

Venice is usually crowded with tourists, and the Bridge of Sighs is one of the city’s most popular sights, so arrange your time at the bridge accordingly if you want to escape the greatest crowds. Ideally, you should visit the bridge during the off-season when the city has fewer tourists to capture an unobstructed shot. However, if your trip falls during the summer or Carnevale season, expect other people to be present at all times of the day.

The Sighs Bridge is one of the gorgeous places in a city that is already picture-perfect, and it’s generally accompanied by gondolas to lend some Venetian flare to the scene.

How to Visit the Bridge of Sighs

Booking a tour to the Doge’s Palace is the only way to cross the Sighs Bridge and visit the inside. Inside the palace, tour groups learn about the Doge and the Venetian Republic before crossing the bridge of sighs and getting a tour of the prison, marching the unchanging way and observing the alike conclusive view as captives’ particular day or time in the past.

Bridge of Sighs
Bridge of Sighs

Of course, many people want to photograph this iconic monument, which is impossible to accomplish while inside the bridge. Stepping on one of the nearby bridges is the simplest method to observe the Bridge of Sighs from the outside. The Bridge of Paglia, immediately close to St. Mark’s Square and just a short walk away, is the most accessible.

The alternative option is the Bridge of Canonica, which is significantly less popular because it is not on the city’s major foot traffic route. Not only will you within financial means hold the Bridge of Sighs without being pushed forward by other visitors, but you’ll also have the lagoon as a backdrop for your shot.

To go full scale, the richest method for seeing the extension is to plan a gondola ride. They’re pricey, but you may travel straight beneath the bridge in the most authentically Venetian way imaginable, smooching your lover as custom dictates.

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