The Grand Canal is a canal in Venice, Italy. It forms one of the major water-traffic corridors in the city. Public transport is provided by water buses and private water taxis, and many tourists explore the canal by gondola. At one end the canal leads into the lagoon near Santa Lucia railway station and the other end leads into Saint Mark Basin: in between it makes a large S-shape through the central districts (sestieri) of Venice. It is 3,800 m long, 30–90 m wide, with an average depth of five meters (16.5 ft).
The banks of the Grand Canal are lined with more than 170 buildings, most of which date to 13th to the 18th century and demonstrate the welfare and art created by the Republic of Venice. The noble Venetian families faced huge expenses to show off their richness in suitable palazzos: this contest reveals the citizens’ pride and the deep bond with the lagoon. Amongst the many are the Palazzi Barbaro, Ca' Rezzonico, Ca' d'Oro, Palazzo Dario, Ca' Foscari, Palazzo Barbarigo and to Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, housing the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The churches along the canal include the basilica of Santa Maria della Salute. Centuries-old traditions such as the Historical Regatta are perpetuated every year along the Canal.
On the First Sunday of September takes place the Historical Regatta ("Regata Storica"), a competition between Venetian boats watched by thousands of people from the banks or from floating stands. Competitions are preceded by a historical procession ("Corteo Storico") remembering the entrance of the Queen of Cyprus Catherine Cornaro after abdication in 1489: gondoliers in costumes sail in typical 16th century boats following the Bucentaur, Doge's state galley.
The Feast-day of the Madonna della Salute:
On November 21, Venetians thank the Virgin Mary for saving from the plague epidemic in 1630-38 with a pilgrimage to Santa Maria della Salute. Pilgrims cross Grand Canal on a temporary pontoon bridge from Campo Santa Maria Zobenigo, and enjoy stalls and traditional dishes.