Ponte di Rialto

Rialto Bridge Venice
Rialto Bridge Venice

Despite the cries of critics saying the bridge was top-heavy, ungraceful and ugly, the Ponte di Rialto (Rialto bridge) has overcome its questionable history to achieve iconic status in a city well known for incredible sights. For centuries, the Rialto Bridge in Venice was the only of its kind to cross the Grand Canal, thus cementing its place as a defining structure during the rise of the city to a world power. Nowadays it stands alongside St. Mark's square as a top Venice attraction, ferrying most every tourist in the city across its stony backside.

Rialto Bridge at Night
Rialto Bridge at Night

The history of the Rialto Bridge began in 1181, when it was merely a series of floating pontoons. Located on the eastern bank of the canal, the Rialto market was one of the main centers for trade in the city, and eventually the number of footsteps across the pontoons wore it down. A wooden bridge dutifully replaced it in 1250. This was only the beginning of the bridge's tenuous history, however, as the Ponte di Rialto burned during a revolution in 1310, before collapsing twice, once in 1444, and again in 1524. Finally, the city decided to rebuild the bridge with stone, finishing in 1591. Even then, one of the leading architects of Venice predicted it was only a matter of time before the stones of the newly constructed Ponte di Rialto crumbled into the Grand Canal. He likened this top Venice attraction to an accident waiting to happen.

Rialto Bridge
Rialto Bridge

But despite its long and storied penchant for collapse, the Rialto Bridge in Venice is perfectly safe now, with millions of tourists using it to journey across the Grand Canal on a daily basis. The bridge has two walkways along the outer balustrades, and a central one where tiny shops sell the famed Murano glass along with an assortment of jewelry and linens. The rich history and unique consumer goods make this Venice attraction a popular one. At sunset each day, many gather to take in the sight of Venice as the sun disappears into the distance. It is also a perfect spot for admiring the gondoliers as they make their weary way down the Grand Canal, singing softly into the Italian air. Though they pass beneath it without a second thought, the Rialto Bridge in Venice stands stoic and unfazed above the water, an enigmatic symbol of the determination of a thousand architects and craftsmen.

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