Rialto Bridge, Venice

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  • View from Rialto Bridge at sunset
    View from Rialto Bridge at sunset
    by Jadefrau
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    by GentleSpirit
  • Ponte Rialto from Vaporetto number 1
    Ponte Rialto from Vaporetto number 1
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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    RIALTO BRIDGE - in the crowd.

    by breughel Updated Oct 22, 2013

    5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Rialto Bridge

    There are three ways of crossing the steep up and down Rialto Bridge:

    1° The central walkway between the shops is used by the Venetians and those tourists who just want to join Canaregio or San Marco to San Polo and San Croce without looking at the Grand Canal. All my sympathies go to the Venetians who each day have to fight their way through the crowd on this bridge. I hate this bridge because each time I had to cross the Ponte di Rialto my wife put me in front of her in order to open the path like a bulldozer or tank.

    2° The smaller southern walkway with the view on the Grand Canal towards San Marco.
    This is the most crowded part. Views are great if you are able to reach and maintain yourself at the parapet.

    I have a tip which I hope will be rated as very helpful by VT members. Climb the stairs by the larger central walkway, between the souvenir shops, at the summit of the bridge turn left in the opening portico between the shops and push with your elbows until you reach the parapet. The balustrade in stone is strong and high enough to keep tourists from falling in the Grand Canal.

    3° The small northern walkway is less crowded because the Grand Canal bends here so that the view is limited and less nice than on the other side. This side is nevertheless interesting from a navigational point of view because the vaporetto's are not able to pass each other in the bend of the Canal under the bridge. No navigation incident happened during my walk on the bridge.

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    RIALTO BRIDGE - Material Strength.

    by breughel Updated Oct 22, 2013

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    Leaning on 12000 piles

    Since I read that the Campanile opposite San Marco tumbled down on July 14, 1902, without any warning but without victims, I am somewhat suspicious about the resistance of Venetian monuments, being aware of the soil on which they are built.
    Consequently, before climbing the steps of the Rialto Bridge I gathered some information on the supposed strength of this bridge.
    The previous bridge in wood collapsed in 1444 under the weight of a crowd watching a boat parade and it collapsed again in 1524.
    The new stone bridge was build between 1588 and 1592 by the architect Antonio Da Ponte (a good name for building bridges).
    The overall length is 48 m, width 22 m, the single arch has a width of 28 m and maximum height of 7,50 m in order to allow the Venetian galleys, among which the famous Bucentaure, nowadays the Vaporetto, to pass under the bridge.

    The engineering of the single span bridge was considered so audacious that another architect Vincenzo Scamozzi, competing to get the project for himself, predicted that the bridge would collapse.
    So let's have a look at the engineering as the Rialto Bridge of Antonio Da Ponte is still standing and apparently presents no danger for the millions of tourists climbing her steps.
    For each side of the arch 6000 "pali" piles of wood with lengths between 1 and 3,50 m were used for the foundations.
    The balustrade of the bridge is made of "Pietra d'Istria" a quite resistant calcareous rock of bright white colour.
    No doubt the Rialto Bridge is strong, nice and practical as wanted by the Venetian authorities of the 16th c.

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    RIALTO - Strange Sculptures.

    by breughel Written Apr 14, 2007

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    Strange sculptures

    There are two strange sculptures on the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi, next to the Rialto Bridge which merit some explanation.
    Between the decisions of the Senate in 1525 to build a stone bridge after the numerous collapses of the wooden Rialto bridges and the effective start of the construction in 1588 many years passed. The city of Venice had financial problems which delayed the construction of the stone bridge. The future stone bridge of the Rialto was therefore the object of numerous jokes and mocking remarks from the Venetians.
    A man made a bet with Camerlenghi, a famous banker who financed Venice, that there would be no stone bridge before as he said:
    “Voglio che, se ciò si farà, mi nasca un' unghia fra le eoscie !”
    to which a woman added :
    “Voglio che le fiamme m'abbrucino la natura !” if one day the bridge is build.

    In French we would have said that the bridge would be built when: "lorsque les poules auront des dents" when the chicken will have teeth.

    The Italian expressions are much more expressive and somewhat crude, I therefore hesitate to translate…

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  • jlee008's Profile Photo

    Ponte di Rialto

    by jlee008 Written Nov 1, 2004

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    Ponte di Rialto - View from Grand Canal

    Rialto Bridge is probably the most stunning bridge and most famous bridge in Venice. It is a definate must see. Whether you pass under it on your ride up and down the Grand Canal or whether you go to shop on it, it is quite a bridge to behold.

    The bridge was built between 1588 and 1591 and was the only bridge to cross the Grand Canal until the Accademia bridge was built in 1854. Up until that point, there were only wooden bridges that spanned the Grand Canal. Today, there are only a total of three bridges including the Ponte di Rialto and the Ponte d'Accademia that span the expanse of the Grand Canal.

    There are a total of three bridge walkways, the two on the outside offer a great place for tourists to watch Venetian life below and the center, larger, walkway is home to small shops that entice the visitor.

    HOURS: open all the time, check stores for hours.

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  • suvanki's Profile Photo

    Rialto Bridge

    by suvanki Updated Apr 26, 2009

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    Rialto Bridge Venice
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    SAN MARCO to SAN POLO AND SANTA CROCE

    Another of Venices most famous landmarks

    This was the only crossing point for those on foot over the Rialto until 1854, with the addition of the Accademia Bridge!

    As an important commercial centre, bridges of various constructions, usually wood, have lasted varying amounts of time at this point. One such wooden bridge was destroyed by the army of Tiepolo, escaping from San Marco on the night of June 15th 1310 (see my earlier tip on the Old Lady and the Mortar). The wooden bridge that replaced it collapsed in 1444, due to the weight of the crowd gathered there to view the wedding procession of the Marquis of Ferrara float below them. Subsequent bridges continued to perish, so the decision was made in 1524, for a stone bridge to be designed
    The bridge seen today was designed, following a competition (lasting 60 years!) by the State to find a suitable design, (which had many of the days finest architects, including Michaelangelo, competing for the honour) Antonio da Ponte (what an appropriate name!) won, by submitting a plan for a bridge with slanted arcades, that housed rows of shops, and which blended in with the splendid buildings lining the Grand Canal built during different eras and in different styles. There's always a critic though! One Edward Gibbon, was quoted as saying "A fine bridge, spoilt by two rows of houses upon it"

    Visitors to Venice flock to this bridge, day and night, to walk over its well trodden pathway, to admire the views of the bustling Grand Canal below, with its vaporettas, gondolas and small boats weaving up and down. Lining the Grand Canal are many distinguished buildings, intermingling with the busy pavement cafes and walkways.

    Check out the carvings of angels and saints on the facades (see my off the beaten track tip for their significance)

    Be aware of your possessions, as with most crowded tourist attractions, this could be a prime pick pocketing spot

    My favourite memory of my first Christmas visit to this bridge is of finding myself here in the dark on Christmas Eve, and just standing enjoying the scene and atmosphere, then again on Christmas Day morning phoning family and friends to wish them Happy Christmas as the sun glistened on the water below.

    Listening to some good buskers, particularly a saxophonist on Christmas night 2008, and an elderly guitarist on a previous visit have been happy memories, and just enjoying the bustling scene on the Grand Canal, with the changes of the sun on the water and the different colours of the skies

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  • tpal's Profile Photo

    The Rialto Bridge...Venice's Signature Bridge

    by tpal Updated Dec 17, 2004

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    The Rialto Bridge from the Grand Canal

    Somehow I doubt this is a revelation but, "If you go to Venice you Must See the Rialto Bridge"! Built in the 16th century, this was the first bridge to be constructed across the Grand Canal. The arched portico which houses several boutiques was a later addition but definitely adds to its unique appearance.

    The most complete view is surely from the water but to truly experience this piece of Venice you must walk the bridge. In the daytime it will always be crowded. More so during high season but still always busy. At night, you can enjoy a little more privacy and I think the best atmosphere.

    I took this photograph from the stern of a vaporetto and I would like to thank the unnamed gondolier for having perfect timing.

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  • sandysmith's Profile Photo

    Rialto Bridge

    by sandysmith Updated Oct 2, 2005

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    Venice's most famous bridge - Rialto Bridge -is always a bottle neck with tourists so guess it is a real must see in Venice. This famous venetian bridge crossed the Grand Canal at its narrowest point. Its lined with shops in the central part and has two other walkways either side of theis. Even so with the crowds it will take some time to get across - everyone want to have their pic taken on it and I was no differrent. Its well worth crossing to see the colourful Rialto markets on the other side too.

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  • rubbersoul75's Profile Photo

    Rialto Bridge

    by rubbersoul75 Updated Jun 22, 2006

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    from the vaporetto

    This current bridge was constructed between 1588 and 1591. In the competition for the design, this design (by Antonio da Porto) was selected over others including the likes of Michelangelo, Palladio, & Sansovino. From it's completion until 1854, this was the only bridge that crossed the Grand Canal (now there a 3, the other 2 are at the Accademia and near the train station).

    The Rialto bridge and surrounding markets are one of the top attractions and a must see in Venice. Though there are lots of tacky souvenir stands about, some of the best views of the Grand Canal and Palazzi are from this bridge.

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  • Cristian_Uluru's Profile Photo

    Ponte di Rialto

    by Cristian_Uluru Updated Aug 15, 2009

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    Ponte di Rialto
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    Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge, in English) is one of the most famous buildings of Venice. A wooden bridge was built in the 13th century to connect the two sides of the town . Later many bridges were built in Venice but no one of them joining the Gran Canal's banks and it was for years the only connection between the two parts of the town. It was partly burnt in the revolt led by Bajamonte Tiepolo in 1310. In 1444 it collapsed under the weight of a crowd watching a boat parade and it collapsed again in 1524.
    It was rebuilt in stone in 1551 based on many project made by the best architects of that period: Andrea Palladio, Vincenzo Scamozzi and Vignola. All of them made a Classic approach with several arches which was judged inappropriate to the situation.

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  • Mahieu's Profile Photo

    Rialto bridge

    by Mahieu Written Aug 1, 2004

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    Together with San Marco, THE tourist spot of Venice. Lots of tourist shops inside and around the bridge and needless to say that everything is very expensive around here. But the bridge is worth to check out of course. It was built between 1588 and 1591. The Ponte di Rialto remained the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot until the Accademia Bridge was built in 1854.
    The bridge has three walkways: two along the outer balustrades, and a wider central walkway leading between two rows of small shops that sell jewelry, linens, Murano glass, and other items for the tourist trade.

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  • hundwalder's Profile Photo

    Ponte di Rialto. All signs point the way to it.

    by hundwalder Updated Apr 29, 2008

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    ponte di rialto

    Ponte di Rialto is the most famous bridge in Venice and one of the best known bridges in the world.

    Construction on this bridge comenced in 1588, and it was completed a few years later. The bridge and virtually every structure in Venezia are supported by long wooden pilings. Building the great city of Venezia was a monumental task. The forests of the surrounding Veneto were once nearly depleted by Venetians building their city.

    I have shown the bridge up close and bathed in the early Sunday morning sunlight, so that the intricate detail of this great architectural masterpiece can be fully admired.

    At the time this photo was taken, the many shops housed under the roof of the bridge were closed and shuttered while the shopkeepers either attended Mass or attended to personal matters such as sleeping. Look closely and note the absence of tourists on the bridge. This was in mid May which is not too distant from the peak of the tourist season. Lesson: Early morning is an excellent time to visit the most popular of Venezia's tourist attractions.

    Visit the lesser known sites later in the day after the tourists have completely overrun the most popular ones.

    Back in the days when Venezia was the leading commercial center of the world, all ships laden with imports and exports passed under the close confines of ponte di Rialto. Can you imagine the excitement when the first ever load of venetian blinds passed under this great bridge ?

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  • STEFZAMM's Profile Photo

    IL PONTE RIALTO

    by STEFZAMM Updated Oct 11, 2004

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    On the Ponte Rialto...

    This bridge is another big attraction in Venice. For a long time it was the only bridge over the canal grande. The name was derived from "Rivus Altus" meaning high rank, the name given to the first settlement on the island.
    Today it is surrounded by many restaurants and shops.
    One can actually go on the bridge for a good view of the canal grande.

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  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo

    Rialto Bridge

    by HORSCHECK Updated Oct 24, 2007

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    Ponte de Rialto
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    The Rialto Bridge (Ponte de Rialto) is one of the three bridges crossing the Canale Grande.

    This most famous bridge of Venice was built in 1591. It consists of two rows of shops and three footways.

    The shops only face the middle way, and sell fruits, vegetables and all kinds of tourist stuff.

    Directions:
    The Rialto Bridge is located about 500 m north of St. Mark's Square. It links the districts of San Polo and San Marco.

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  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo

    Rialto Bridge

    by GentleSpirit Updated Jan 31, 2013

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    the Rialto Bridge is one of the more famous crossings of the Grand Canal.
    It was designed by Antonio de la Ponte in 1591. Other architects predicted its fall...its' still there, pretty good!

    Tons of people and tons of expensive shops as you approach

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    The Rialto Bridge

    by Mikebb Updated May 6, 2006

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    The Rialto Bridge
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    This bridge over the Grand Canal is one of the symbols of Venice and every tourist finds their way there. It is a beautiful looking bridge and there are many jewellery shops on the sides as you walk over. Over the centuries the bridge has been built many times, originally a simple wooden bridge, later with a drawbridge which was raised to allow sailing ships to enter the canal. Throughout the 16th century designs were submitted for a stone bridge and eventually after 60 years the design of Antonio da Ponte was accepted in 1588 and the bridge was built over a period of 3 years.
    The bridge has viewing platforms enabling you to view the Grand Canal and the constant activity on the water. It is a great photo opportunity.

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