A Photo & 5 · Historical Places

A Photo & 5: The Bridge of Sighs


The Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy
The subject for this photo and 5 was suggested by one of my new favorite bloggers. Readers can check out his blog at https://rudyblues.wordpress.com. I would like to take his advice and invite all readers to please suggest any subjects for future Photo and 5s in the comment section of this post. The study of history should be communal, with discussion, debate, and the sharing of insights. And so in that spirit, please, comment and request! This post’s Photo and 5 features the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy.

1. The Bridge of Sighs is an enclosed, intricately decorated bridge in Venice, Italy. It is made of white limestone and features “mascarons,” which are sculpted faces with sad or angry expressions. The bridge connects the New Prison, or Prigioni Nuove (new as in built in 1589-1616) to the interrogation rooms in Doge’s Palace, or Palazzo Ducale. (Small side note: the Palazzo Ducale was once the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice, which existed from the late 7th century until 1797.) The Bridge of Sighs was designed by Antonio Contino, and built in 1600.

2.  The bridge began to be referred to as the “Bridge of Sighs” in the early 1800s due to a line by the poet Lord Byron in his poem “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.” The line is as follows:

“I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs,

A palace and a prison on each hand…”

3.  There are 2 reasons for the “sighs” associated with the bridge. The first is that because the bridge was used to lead prisoners from their examination rooms to their prison cells, the view from the bridge was said to be the last glimpse of Venice that prisoners would see after an interrogation and before their imprisonment or execution. The sight would cause them to sigh with despair and loss. A wistful and sigh-worthy thought to be sure, however, it is said that not much of a view can be seen through the stone grills that cover the windows on the bridge. Also, summary executions (in which a prisoner would be executed immediately following an inquisition) were no longer practiced by the time the bridge was built.

The second cause for sighs at the bridge comes from a Venetian legend that says lovers will experience eternal love and happiness if they kiss while on a gondola at sunset under the Bridge of Sighs as the bells of St. Mark’s Campanile ring. Geez, Venetians, that’s a bit complicated, but the idea most certainly warrants a sigh.

4. If you want to see the bridge in person, you will need to hop on a gondola, or book a tour of the Itinerari Segreti, the Secret Itineraries tour. For those who see themselves in Vegas before Venice, you can check out a similar “Bridge of sighs” at the Venetian Hotel and Casino.

5. The Bridge of Sighs inspired the movie A Little Romance (1979), and is also the name of the second solo album and song by the English guitarist and songwriter Robin Trower. To jam to the song yourself, click here: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=robin+trower+and+bridge+of+sighs&view=detail&mid=E6D6DFBC82DF8B2A69EBE6D6DFBC82DF8B2A69EB&FORM=VIRE1

I’ll close this photo and five with the lyrics of Robin Trower’s Bridge of Sighs (1974):

The sun don’t shine The moon don’t move the tides, To wash me clean Sun don’t shine The moon don’t move the tides, To wash me clean Why so unforgiving and why so cold Been a long time crossing bridge of sighs

Cold wind blows The Gods look down in anger, On this poor child Cold wind blows And Gods look down in anger, On this poor child Why so unforgiving and why so cold Been a long time crossing bridge of sighs


Beautiful lyrics, beautiful bridge. Sigh.

Photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/76/Venice_-_The_Bridge_of_Sighs.jpg








3 thoughts on “A Photo & 5: The Bridge of Sighs

  1. Interesting that you wrote about the Bridge of Sighs. Just two days ago I pulled an old envelope out of the closet and was going through the pictures and came across a photograph of this bridge. At first I thought it was one of the photos you had taken in Europe until I saw the date (print from a negative) and realized it was taken before you had gone there. Of course I immediately joked it had to be Vegas because the whole world can be seen in Vegas. If you can’t get to all your dream destinations just go to Vegas and do the sweetened condensed version. Other pictures in the envelope confirmed it was Vegas as the Eifel Tower was in it at a different angel. Now I know all about the bridge in the picture. Thanks! It’s interesting how connections of random things happening in Life get joined up within days or even hours of each other. Maybe Marks got a point, Maybe Maybe. We are all tied to the same string maybe, maybe. “Heaven and Earth are as old as I, and the ten thousand things are one.” -Chang Tzu, about 300 B.C., China (just read that ten minutes ago—connections again) As Always, Solvig. ( p.s. I liked the blue and yellow paint blob in a different post. Did you fingerpaint with it afterward??)

    Liked by 1 person

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