The regular vaporettos (water buses) that ply the Grand Canal are a great way to get a different perspective of the bridge.
The Rialto Bridge is a world-renowned symbol of Venice. Connecting the historic districts of San Marco and San Polo, the bridge is one of the city’s most iconic and visited landmarks, and for three hundred years it was the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot. It is now visited by millions of tourists each year, but despite the crowds it remains utterly unmissable.
Setting it in Stone
There has been a bridge of one sort or another on this site since the 12th century. However, after various burnings and collapses of these flimsy timber structures, it was finally decided that a more permanent stone bridge should be built. Various designers were considered, including Michelangelo himself, but the job was eventually given to Antonio da Ponte, who completed the work in 1591. At the time, the design was so audacious that many contemporary architects predicted that it would collapse before long.
A Cultural Icon
Over four hundred years later, the bridge is still standing, and the beautiful stone arch continues to dazzle its visitors. Two covered ramps from either bank meet to form a beautiful arched portico in the middle. From here you get a lovely view looking south-west down the Grand Canal towards the Ca' Foscari University. The ramps are lined on both sides by shops which sell the usual souvenirs and knick-knacks, and buskers can usually be heard strumming or singing on either side of the canal.
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