Rialto Bridge

Venice, Italy

The Rialto Bridge is the oldest bridge across the canal, and was the dividing line for the districts of San Marco and San Polo. The first dry crossing of the Grand Canal was a pontoon bridge built in 1181 by Nicolò Barattieri.

The development and importance of the Rialto market on the eastern bank increased traffic on the floating bridge, so it was replaced in 1255 by a wooden bridge. This structure had two inclined ramps meeting at a movable central section, that could be raised to allow the passage of tall ships. The connection with the market eventually led to a change of name for the bridge. During the first half of the 15th century, two rows of shops were built along the sides of the bridge. The rents brought an income to the State Treasury, which helped maintain the bridge.

Maintenance was vital for the timber bridge. It was partly burnt in the revolt led by Bajamonte Tiepolo in 1310. In 1444, it collapsed under the weight of a crowd watching a boat parade and it collapsed again in 1524.

The idea of rebuilding the bridge in stone was first proposed in 1503. Several projects were considered over the following decades. In 1551, the authorities requested proposals for the renewal of the Rialto Bridge, among other things. Plans were offered by famous architects, such as Jacopo Sansovino, Palladio and Vignola, but all involved a Classical approach with several arches, which was judged inappropriate to the situation. Michelangelo also was considered as designer of the bridge.

The present stone bridge, a single span designed by Antonio da Ponte, was finally completed in 1591. It is similar to the wooden bridge it succeeded. Two inclined ramps lead up to a central portico. On either side of the portico, the covered ramps carry rows of shops. The engineering of the bridge was considered so audacious that architect Vincenzo Scamozzi predicted future ruin. The bridge has defied its critics to become one of the architectural icons of Venice.

Today, the Bridge is one of the top tourism attractions in Venice.



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Founded: 1588-1591
Category: Miscellaneous historic sites in Italy

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User Reviews

Anky Sh (2 months ago)
It's a beautiful and the oldest of 4 bridges offering a lovely view of Grand Canal Venice . One can climb up the steps ,it offers views on both sides . One can go for a gondola ride or a speedboat ride depending on preference. Lots of hotels ,pubs and restaurants, local market line up the area making it vibrant in day but it looks amazing at night .
Jason Stephens (2 months ago)
Nice place to visit if you're in Venice. You can get some nice pictures here, you a great view the main river way, lots of stores to shop and places to eat near the bridge
berke ayrancioglu (2 months ago)
One of the most iconic bridges and famous views in Venice. The view is amazing on both sides. A must see location for tourists. Only problem is there are lots of tourists all the time(as expected) and it is sometimes hard to find a nice spot on the bridge.
Chitrita Ghosh (3 months ago)
The oldest bridge to build over the grand canal, it is a testament of of the great Venetian architecture. A true symbol of Venice. Very touristy. Be aware of pickpocket The famous gondola ride starts from here which costs 80 euro per gondola for a half hour ride during day time.
Jarin Sanramoni (3 months ago)
One of the famous and beautiful place in Venice, Italy. The Rialto Bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in Venice, Italy. It spans the Grand Canal and is known for its elegant design and historical significance. It's a popular spot for tourists and offers beautiful views of the city. We enjoyed a lot. Highly recommended. Try to go in sunny day otherwise you might not enjoy.
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