The city is traversed by 177 channels (the largest of which is the Grand Canal) and 455 bridges4,5 (most often arched to let the boats). It has 123 churches and covers 118 islands between the mouth of the Adige (south) and Piave (north).
It is divided into six historic districts called the sestieri: San Marco, Castello and Cannaregio on the left bank of the Grand Canal and Santa Croce, San Polo and Dorsoduro on the other side.
The district of San Marco and the basilica of the same name constitute the heart of the city. The district of Castello covers all the southeastern part of Venice. Called Olivolo in the late Middle Ages, its current name comes from the fortress on San Pietro Island, dismantled for a long time. The district of Cannaregio occupies all the part of the city between the Rialto and the train station. It is named because of the rectilinear nature of the channels that run through it (reggio canal). On the other side, the sestieri of Santa Croce and San Polo owe their name to two churches (the first, destroyed). San Polo is the most densely populated and includes the shopping district of Rialto. San Croce is the most recent with more spacious buildings of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Dorsoduro (hard back) is called because of the more rocky nature of its soil and the altitude of the sestiere, higher than the others. As a result, during bouts of "acqua alta" (high water), it is less often flooded. This area also includes the island of Giudecca. © Photo of Emmanuel Buchot
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