Rialto Bridge or Ponte di Rialto is an Iconic Venice Bridge:
Ponte di Rialto or Rialto Bridge as we know it, is one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice and the oldest amongst the four.
Built between 1588 and 1591, this was the only link between the two sides of the Grand Canal until 1854 when the Accademia Bridge was built.
Prior to the construction of this stone bridge there was a wooden bridge and before that an earlier pontoon bridge. The earlier wooden crossing collapsed in 1444 under the weight of spectators during the wedding ceremony of the Marchese di Ferrara.
Designed by Antonio da Ponte
When the wooden bridge fell into a state of disrepair by the 16th century, a competition was held for the design of a new bridge which was to be built in stone. The competition drew entries from many eminent architects and even Michelangelo was considered as a potential designer.
Interestingly, after a long deliberation, it was the design by Antonio da Ponte that was chosen over those by the more famous architects. What an apt name for a bridge designer! Antonio da Ponte’s single span stone bridge was quite similar to the wooden bridge that was there previously. The design was considered to be audacious by some who predicted its collapse. Da Ponte was helped by his nephew Antonio Contino who later designed Ponte dei Sospiri or the Bridge of Sighs.
Completed in 1591, Ponte di Rialto is today one of Venice’s famous iconic landmarks. Everyone visiting Venice will have crossed this bridge several times, stood at the central portico to watch the busy traffic on the Grand Canal and soak in the atmosphere of this beautiful city, taken a thousand photos and peered into the covered ramps carrying rows of shops.