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Canals of Venice, Italy
Venice has some 150 canals that range from tiny, quiet "side canals" to the busy Grand Canal (a former river) and the Giudecca canal (which is big enough for cruise ships). Go for a walk or a boat ride, and here's what you'll find.
The name "Venice" and the word "canal" go hand in hand--so much so that any city or town with a network of canals is likely to be promoted as "The Venice of [insert region, country, or continent]."
In the original Venice, or Venezia, more than 150 canals wend their way through the Italian city's historic center. Most of them weren't created by Venetians--they were simply gaps between the cluster of nearly 120 islands that eventually became the the Venetian Republic or La Serenissima.
Over time, as the city-state grew, residents constructed buildings, sidewalks, and seawalls along the canals.
Manual dredging also took place, making even the smallest canals navigable by gondole, sandale, and other small boats.
Bridges were added, turning a network of islands into the pedestrian-friendly city that Venice is today.
Today, Venice has three major canals:
In addition to these large canals, Venice has more than 150 neighborhood or "side canals" that vary in width and boat capacity.
BELOW: This map of Venice's centro storico, or historic center, has captions for the city's three major canals. If you look closely, you'll see tiny blue representations of smaller neighborhood canals or "side canals" that are identified with the name "Rio" (such as "Rio di S. Toma" or "Rio di Santa Maria Formosa") on stone plaques alongside bridges.
BELOW: Our second map shows the six sestieri or districts of central Venice plus the island of La Giudecca. There are three sestieri on each side of the S-shaped Grand Canal.
Next page: Grand Canal
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