The Grand Canal is the major thoroughfare that runs through the central district of Venice. This 2.4 mile channel runs from the lagoon by the Santa Lucia Railway Station to the basin at San Marco Square. Along the banks of the canal are more than 170 buildings that were built from the 13th to the 18th century. Visitors and residents alike flock to the many stores and restaurants that line the canal. There are four bridges that cross the canal, but it is the oldest and most famous bridge, the Rialto Bridge, that people flock to, especially at sunset. People line the bridge to take photos and videos of the scene and, when we were there, it was about four people deep to get close to the edge.
Fortunately, our guide in the Dolomites, Mauro Riva, told us about another and much better way to view the canal at sunset. Seems there is an observation roof on top of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi that is above the Rialto Bridge that anyone can go to to see the canal from above. The downside is that you must make reservations in advance and you only get 15 minutes on the roof. The Fondaco dei Tedeschi was first constructed in 1228 and later rebuilt between 1505 and 1508, after its destruction in a fire. It is now a high end department store, which to me is rather sad, but it historically served as a home to German merchants. In any case, we had a wonderful view of the Grand Canal and the soft light from the setting sun was perfect.