Accademia Bridge – a Venice Landmark

The Accademia Bridge, also known as Ponte dell’Accademia, is one of the four bridges in Venice that crosses the Grand Canal, and it has the distinction of being the only wooden bridge over the Grand Canal. Yet there is a current plan under consideration to tear it down and replace it with a more modern structure.

History

Originally built in 1854 out of steel, the Accademia Bridge was replaced in 1932 with a wooden bridge which was intended to be temporary. Over the years this bridge had been reinforced with steel to allow for the increased amount of foot traffic since its construction in the 1930s.

In 1985, a new wooden bridge, which was a replica of the 1932 design, was built to make a safer structure. Its high arch design makes this Venice landmark unique and makes for a great view at sunset.

Location

Venice’s Accademia Bridge crosses the Grand Canal near the southern end of the Grand Canal, connecting Campo San Vidal with Campo della Carità, and linking the sestiere of Dorsoduro and San Marco. This makes the Accademia the closest bridge to Piazza San Marco.

Named for the Accademia Art Galleries, the bridge is near the area where several of Venice’s finest museums and art galleries are located. One of the most famous of these is the Gallerie dell’ Accademia, which features pre-19th century art.

New design under consideration

Recently there has been much controversy over a plan to demolish the present bridge and replace it with a bridge constructed from stone, glass and steel, designed by Schiavina, an architect from Bologna. The new bridge design includes a high arch similar to the present Accademia, as well as an access ramp for the elderly and disabled. The design is currently being considered by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage in Rome with the cost of the new bridge estimated to be $8.7 million.

Local protests

Local Venetians are outraged with this design, citing the fact that the Accademia is a Venice landmark with its own sense of dignity and part of the city’s identity. The protests are against building such a modern-looking bridge in a city with 17th century architecture.

However the authorities argue that the Accademia Bridge requires expensive maintenance as well as having safety concerns related to the wooden steps. Recently over 250,000 euros were spent in restoration work on the bridge. The current Accademia Bridge, with all its steps, does not allow for access for the disabled and the elderly with walking problems.

Nothing happens fast in Italy. You will have to wait and see what the outcome will be.


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