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Discovering the Grand Canal: Venice’s Aquatic Wonder

Travelling to Venice? ArtViva’s tour guides are here to introduce you to the Grand Canal’s history and splendour.

Off to explore the Queen of the Adriatic? Whether you’re joining a Venice walking tour or you are planning to see the sights on your own, there’s one thing you’ll find everywhere: water, water and more water.

Although La Serenissima is famous for its myriad canals, which have 400 bridges and connect 118 islands, the Grand Canal is by far the most important – and impressive – aquatic corridor of the city. To fully appreciate this imposing waterway’s magnificence, let’s talk about how it came to be. When equipped with the following fun facts, you’ll be ready to take the Grand Canal by storm.


Have you ever heard that visiting Venice is like entering a time warp? This sentiment will hold especially true when you see the Grand Canal, considering how far its existence dates back – and how little has changed over time. We believe that the watercourse originated from the route of an ancient tributary that flowed into Venice’s lagoon. In the Roman age, it was called the Rio Businiacus and was used by the Veneti, who traded salt and fished. By the tenth century, it had become a bustling – and very ‘grand’ – trading route, a position that it still boasts today.

Then and Now

Today, the Grand Canal is roughly sixteen feet deep, up to three-hundred feet wide, and two and a half miles long. As one of the most noteworthy waterways in all of Italy, this aquatic wonder winds its way through the centre of Venice, making it hard to miss on any of the city’s many Venice walking tours. What’s more, its banks are lined with 170 picturesque edifices, some of which are a whopping 800 years old. Together, the sparkling waters and its adjacent buildings form a one-of-a-kind scene – you’ll definitely want to pack your cameras!

While you may think that this glistening channel simply adds a crucial touch of romance to the city today, think again: it was important one thousand years ago, and it’s still important now. About sixty percent of the city’s traffic traverses the Grand Canal. While you may think that sixty percent sounds awfully high, you’ll become convinced of this statistic’s accuracy on any Venice walking tour: just watch the vast number of water taxis, gondolas and commercial ships float by. On weekdays, the traffic will undoubtedly alter your perception of ‘rush hour’.

A Unique Experience

Of course, you can always explore the waters’ banks on foot – take a leisurely stroll with your significant other, sign up for one of the many excellent Venice walking tours, rent a bike and pedal along the water... the options are truly endless. However, why not make the most of your holiday and experience the canal in the best – and most romantic – way possible?

ArtViva’s exclusive tour arranges for you to discover the canal by boat and let yourself be rocked gently by the waves. With our local, experienced and engaging guides, you’ll be able to ask everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Venice and its momentous aquatic channel (and impress your guide with your solid preliminary knowledge). To top it all off, you’ll get the juicy inside scoop on Venice’s rich and famous citizens who live(d) along the canal, and will discover where your favourite Venice-based films took place. After this thorough tour, you’ll emerge an expert on the Floating City’s splendour all the more.

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