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
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en.wikipedia.org

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User Reviews

Amol Raorane (19 months ago)
It's a majestic structure, with a different vibe during the day and the night. The best view of the bridge is from a ferry that goes under it during the day. Or if you can spend more, from a Gondola. At night, the bridge is the best company to share a Spritz by the canal in one of the many restaurants lining the canal near the bridge.
Ope Coker (20 months ago)
Nice tourist place. I loved the layout of the bridge, how it hangs beautifully over the Grand Canal. I loved the little shops spread all around the place where you can fund some real gems. And then there's the fish market that's not very far from there. Rialto Bridge is a lively place and I could sit by the waters edge and take in the scenery all day - because in the midst of the bustling, I find a serenity that calms the soul. Your visit to Venice is not complete without taking in the views of the Rialto Bridge.
Ewelina Karmazyn (20 months ago)
Beautiful bridge witch character. It’s very popular and gets very busy with people who try to take some pictures, selfies and record some short videos
Joseph (20 months ago)
Gorgeous iconic landmark of Venice that you'll undoubtedly cross and see many times during your stay here (essentially don't plan to specifically come here! You'll need to cross it to get to San Polo/San Marco either way). It's very busy during the day with tourists taking photos so if you want a photo on it, it's best to go at past 10 or so when there's not nearly as many people. Just be careful of the various guys offering free flowers/roses as they tend to harass people enjoying their time on the bridge.
sid kapoor (20 months ago)
The trip to Italy is incomplete without a visit to this location. Offer amazing views and lovely walks nearby. A must visit. It's situated at the Grand canal and gives the most beautiful and memorable view of Venice. The place oozes European architectural beauty. A romantic evening at the Great Canal and the bridge is something not to be missed.
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