Rialto – Famous Bridge in Venice

Standing on the water, Beautiful Venice is known to Italians and representatives of other countries as the “City of Bridges.” This name is quite understandable: the city has about four hundred bridges connecting 117 small islands over 150 canals. Some of these connecting links have received interesting and unusual names, some stand out for their appearance, and others attract certain tourists. But today, we will talk about one of the city’s most famous and significant bridges – the Rialto.

The Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) stretches over the Grand Canal, connecting the two urban areas of San Polo and San Marco with each other, becoming one of the busiest places in the outstanding city on the water.

It is noteworthy that today this bridge is usually “occupied” by crowds of tourists seeking to look at the cozy houses and buildings located around. The Rialto Bridge is considered to be one of the most visited places in Venice. Even though several more bridges in the city cross the central canal.

Gondola on the Grand Canal next to the Rialto Bridge
“When was the first bridge over the Grand Canal built?”. Historians still find it difficult to give an exact answer to this question.

Until the 1100s, there was not a single mention of the existence of the Rialto Bridge in the city’s archives. Before the first bridge was built, the inhabitants of Venice had to resort to expedients. They climbed from one bank to the other in wooden boats tied together. However, the use of these unreliable constructions had to be abandoned soon. Constant fires and instability led to the death of people.

After numerous tragic incidents, the Venetians decided to build a bridge across the Grand Canal. But the wood, which served as the main material for the construction, again brought many problems.

Venice Rialto Bridge at night

The first trouble overtook him in 1310 when he was partially burned during the uprising led by Bajamonte Tiepolo. A century later, in 1444, the bridge was destroyed again. According to one of the versions, it could not stand the mass of spectators who gathered there to look at the wife of the Marquis of Ferrara.

Read about the famous bridges in Venice.


Over and over again, the masters of Venice repaired and remodeled the bridge, attracting a lot of locals. Only in 1591, a stone structure appeared across the city’s main canal. The construction, according to the project of Antonio de Ponte, took three years due to the uneven bottom of the lagoon.

The bridge that we can see today has retained its original appearance. There is one arch, on both sides of which there are shopping arcades.

Rialto stands on 12 thousand piles, its length is 48 meters, and its width is 22 meters. Soon after the opening of the renovated bridge in 1591, the city authorities allowed ships to pass under the Rialto.

Ships and gondolas under the Rialto Bridge in Venice

During the rise of Venice, massive ships and boats, including those from distant overseas countries, stopped and unloaded in this city. Silk and spices were brought to Venice from the countries of the East. And city merchants got a unique chance to be the first to sell new items in the rest of Italy and even beyond its borders.

Even though there is no trade on the bridge today, it is still quite lively. Tourists have been loving the bridge, making it one of the most photographed places in picturesque Venice.

Guide, traveler, marathon runner, journalist, creator of the site ITALY FOR ME. I live in Rome and am in love with Rome. On the subject of the article, please ask questions in the comments. I try to answer everyone at least once a day.

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