Venetian Pool, Coral Gables: A South Florida Must-Visit

Venetian Pool, Coral Gables | Matt Kieffer/Flickr
Venetian Pool, Coral Gables | Matt Kieffer/Flickr
Photo of Laurence Kidd
19 August 2016

Located in the heart of Coral Gables, an affluent and beautiful neighborhood of Miami, is a pool unlike any that you’ll ever see. The Venetian Pool is the only swimming pool in the USA to be included in the National Register of Historic Places. Here, The Culture Trip profiles this South Florida must-visit landmark with a fascinating history, majestic waterfalls and cave-like grottoes that lure in thousands of visitors each year. Let’s start with a little history lesson.

The pool was created in 1923 from a coral rock quarry, where much of the original coral rock was used to border and further accentuate the pool. The Venetian Pool also features two large historic lookout towers, with a view to the City Beautiful (Coral Gables). The men responsible for creating this 850,000 gallon paradise were George Merrick, a South Florida developer, artist Denman Fink, and architect Phineas Paist. George Merrick envisioned creating a city with Mediterranean features such as grand entrances and elegant plazas. In fact, the limestone coral that was taken out to build the pool was used in the construction of many of the first houses in Coral Gables.

A window looks out onto the Venetian Pool | Mauricio Lima/Flickr

The pool ranges in depth from four feet to depths of over eight feet near the grand waterfall. The pool has gone through various historic renovations over the years, a practical necessity if it’s to stay open to the public. Fresh water from artesian wells (confined aquifers containing groundwater under positive pressure), is used to fill the pool. At the end of each day the pool is drained and refilled the following morning. This process creates the translucent blue waters that make the Venetian Pool so famous.

The world's larges fresh water swimming pool | Mauricio Lima/Flickr

Early in its history, the pool was regularly drained completely to permit the Miami Symphony Orchestra to perform in it, taking advantage of the quarry’s natural acoustic qualities. The 75th anniversary of Coral Gables was celebrated in appropriate style in 2001; the pool was drained and once again it became the pit for a memorable orchestral performance. A 1989 renovation restored many of the pool’s original features, such as the high dive, center island, and gondola docks. However, the gondolas that were used to give the pool a further Venetian ambiance have since been removed.

Panoramic shot of the pool, its historic lookout towers, and majestic falls | Chad Hedstrom/Wikipedia Commons

These days, the Venetian Pool is open to the public; swimmers from all around are enticed by the small cave-like grottoes and scenic waterfalls. When the water is that clear and the sun is shining, one might feel as if nirvana has been reached. Alas, there is a closing time (5:30pm during the summer on weekdays and 4:30pm on weekends), a sacrifice that visitors must make in order for the pool to go through its regenerative process that keeps the water looking like a tropical paradise.

The beautiful colors of the water and sky accentuate the historic coral viewpoints | Ines Hegedus-Garcia/Flickr

The Venetian Pool can be booked for birthday parties and is often the venue for special celebrations and community events. All the rules and costs for throwing such a party at the pool can be found here. Interested in learning how to swim or becoming a certified lifeguard? Well, you are in luck. The Venetian Pool also offers child and adult swimming lessons, lifeguard certification courses for teenagers, a water safety aid course, and a junior lifeguard summer camp. People of Miami, the temperatures are going to stay in the low to mid 90’s for at least another month or so, and the pool is calling! Why not make it a day to remember, and visit the Venetian Pool?

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