Ponte di Rialto is probably the most popular bridge in Venice, as
it used to be the only means of getting from one side of the city
across the Grand Canal without the use of a boat. Because of its location,
and the volume of people that pass by, a commercial center was built
around it. To this day, markets that sell various goods are still
located nearby, while shops can be found on the bridge itself.
The Rialto was built with wood instead of stone,
since wood was easier to replace. But because of this, the bridge
experienced several collapses due to various reasons, so the city
decided to built a new Rialto made of stone. Venetians were asked
to participate in a contest vying for the best bridge design, and
Antonio da Ponte won out over famous artists like Michaelangelo
Another bridge, called the Accademia bridge, was
then created in 1854 across the Grand Canal to lessen the load on
the Rialto, but still, Rialto remains as the heart of Venice, surpassing
even the Piazza San Marco.
The bridge boasts of a 24-foot arch, so that galleys
can pass through it. It has three walkways, with two on the outer
balustrades, and a third, wider one at the central walkway where
you can pass through to get to the various shops. The bridge is
made up mostly of steps, so people with strollers or on wheelchairs
may have a hard time traversing this bridge.