Two amazingly similar views of Venice: from April 2017 and the early 1700s

View of Grand Canal from Academia Bridge
Canaletto’s view roughly down the same way

To continue the theme from an earlier blog on Venice, a modern city that’s still amazingly, astoundingly, recognizable from centuries-old paintings.

Look at this photograph taken by me on April 11, 2017.

It was the low season and before the anti-tourist movement had begun to be felt.

It’s a view of the Grand Canal from Academia Bridge.

Now look at Canaletto’s view (back in the early 18thcentury), roughly down the same way, towards the Santa Maria della Salute.

The church (with the prominent dome) was built in the mid 17thcentury and became an important feature of the Venetian skyline for artists such as Canaletto and Francesco Guardi.

Let’s go back a little bit further in time. To the Venice of painter Giovanni Bellini (who lived from the first third of the 15th century to the early 16th century).

Take a look at his painting, The Procession in St. Mark’s Square. Note the buildings to the right of the Basilica. Also, study closely the mosaics in the five arches on the front of the Basilica.

Now look at the same sort of view in the modern day.

The buildings to the right have gone — replaced a few centuries ago by new government offices. All but one of the mosaics (the one on the extreme left of the Basilica) have changed. But essentially, everything else is really the same.

So, to repeat from Peter Ackroyd’s biography of Venice. “A Venetian of the 16thcentury, if not earlier, would have no trouble finding his or her way through the streets of the modern city,” Ackroyd writes in ‘Venice: Pure City’. “That is true of few other cities on earth.”

Originally published at on September 3, 2017.

PhD. Journalism by trade & inclination. Sign up for free email updates on email me at

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