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Ponte di Rialto

The 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 and Palladio.

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.

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