The Rialto Bridge is the oldest of the four existing bridges on the Grand Canal and is also the dividing line between the San Marco and San Polo districts. Every year, millions of tourists cross it.
The monument is one of the main postcards of Venice, along with the Bridge of Sighs and St. Mark’s Square, among other points of the city. The bridge has a length of 48 meters.
It seems that already in 1172, under Doge Ziani, a bridge of barges was planned. The first dry crossing of the Grand Canal was a floating bridge, built in 1181 by Nicolò Barattieri and known as Ponte della Moneta.
With the development of the Rialto market, the traffic on the bridge increased. Therefore, in 1255, it was replaced by a wooden bridge. The structure had two inclined ramps, connected by a movable central part, which could be lifted to allow the passage of larger ships.
Change of name
The link with the market place, which concentrated the most important trade, banks and commercial administrations, led the bridge to change its name from the 13th century onwards. During the first half of the 15th century, two rows of stores were built along the sides of the bridge. The revenues brought capital to the Treasury and the latter invested in the maintenance of the bridge, an extremely important support for the construction.
The site was partially burned during the revolt led by Bajamonte Tiepolo in 1310, and in 1444 it collapsed under the weight of a crowd watching a boat parade. After being restored, it collapsed again in 1524.
In 1503, the idea of rebuilding the stone bridge emerged, and several projects were analyzed over the following decades. In 1551, proposals to renovate the bridge were requested by the authorities.
The current Rialto Bridge, which uses rocks as raw material, was designed by Antonio da Ponte, its construction began in 1588 and was completed in 1591. The engineering of the Rialto Bridge was considered daring, so the architect Vincenzo Scamozzi predicted its ruin.
It is similar to the earlier design of the wooden bridge: two sloping ramps lead to a portico in the middle and on either side of the portico are rows of stores.
From the Rialto Bridge you can watch the Grand Canal of Venice and watch the sunset over it.
Tips for visiting the Rialto Bridge in Venice
- Visit at the end of the day with the sunset on the Grand Canal; it is a spectacle not to be missed;
- At the top of the bridge there are many small stores selling souvenirs
- You are close to the Rialto market, when you cross the Rialto bridge from San Marco. It is a very colorful place. The market is open every day from 9am to 12pm at Campo da Pescaria and in the surrounding streets.
How to get there
The Rialto Bridge is located at the following address Sestiere San Polo, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy.
It is located on the Grand Canal, which connects the neighborhoods of San Marco and San Polo. The best way to get to the Rialto Bridge is to take the Vaporetto: Rialto, lines 1, 2 and N. The Vaporetto is a traditional Venetian boat and the main means of transportation in the lagoon. It can be translated as “small ship”. You can also get to the site by bus (19, 6L, 84, 8E) or by ferry (2, 4, 2). The tourist site is open every day, 24 hours a day.