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

Samuel Leung (16 months ago)
Iconic bridge with shops across the Grand Canal in the heart of Venice, also the only foot crossing between the districts of San Macro and San Polo. On the bridge plenty perfect spots to watch the boats and gondolas racing each other up and down the waterway, under the bridge you will find nice restaurants and well-stocked stalls to cater for your gastronomic and shopping needs. You can't really claim that you have been to Venice unless you have crossed the bridge a couple times.
Meibelle Michael (2 years ago)
Beautifully marble bridge in person! Go early in the morning to enjoy it to yourself and you must do the gondola ride from here just so you go under the bridge and experience the Venice ambience. The photos don’t do it justice. Enjoy it!
Pin Egoistic (2 years ago)
Kinda crowdy even in times when there is nobody around in the streets.
Ben Lu (2 years ago)
It’s covered in shops selling souvenirs you don’t want. There are some pleasant photos to take from one side and the other which is less known has one building covered in scaffolding. Functionally, it’s a very useful bridge although quite busy.
Ishan (2 years ago)
Amazing and extremely beautiful bridge surrounded by all retails shops. The view is magnificent. You will have the best memorable clicks over here. One of the best highlights of Venice. Must visit place.Visited this place few years back and hopefully will get back for the gondola ride once again in near future.
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