Rio Tera – Canals into Roads. “Rio Tera” is the name given to Venetian canals, that have been filled in or vaulted over to make them into roads. One of the best examples is the Rio Tera dei Gesuati in the Dorsoduro district, where you can follow the course of the original canal. At the side of the Church of the Gesuati, where the wall meets the pavement; a large curved vault can be seen, where the canal actually used to pass under the building. The carved keystone of the vault, indicates that the church belongs to the Dominican order. It depicts a dog, resting on a shield; showing a lily (symbol of St Dominic’s chastity) and a star (symbol of his wisdom).
Essentially an “aquatic” city; networks of canals have always been a part of Venice. In the 16th C, the city had a network of around 37 km; that functioned as “roadways” and with the two daily tides, cleansed the city of waste products.
Before the fall of the Republic in 1797, the priority was to dig more canals; indeed before 1600, only about five were filled in. A good example was when in 1156 the Rio Batario, was filled in to build the Piazza San Marco. Occasion canals were vaulted over, to preserve the tidal movements underneath.
After the Republic fell, the situation changed dramatically. A modernisation program closed about 6 km or 20% of the network. The costs of maintenance were reduced and employment created.
Today, about 30% of canals in San Polo and 25% in Dorsodouro districts; have closed. It has been suggested that some canals should be reinstated, not only to improve tidal flows, but also alleviate the chronic shortage of boat moorings (posti barca)!
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Rio Tera – Canals into Roads Rio Tera – Canals into Roads