The enthralling story of the Rialto Bridge

The story of the Rialto Bridge begins in the XII century when the 121 little islands of Venice were not connected by bridges yet. At first, it was only made by wood boards put on several boats: as time passed, however, it was differently designed and realized with different kinds of materials… do you want to know how it became one of the most famous bridges in the world? So keep on reading…

The ‘first’ Rialto Bridge dated back to the XII century and It has been one of the first bridges ever built in Venice since, at that time, people used to move from one island of the city to the other (121 islands overall!) only by boat. At the beginning the Rialto Bridge was made by wood boards held up by boats and it was called Ponte della Moneta to recall the fee due to the ferry that used to connect the two sides of the Canal Grande.

In 1250, the bridge became a wooden structure which could be opened in the middle in order to let the big boats cross the channel. Since it was located near Rivoalto (than Rialto), which was the commercial centre of Venice, it came to be called Ponte di Rialto. Even if the structure was solid, it collapsed many times - in 1310, in 1444 and in 1523 - for different reasons.

However, it was the XVI century when, given the importance of the Rialto Bridge for the economy and the life of the city, the venetian authorities decided to ask to artists and architects such as Palladio, Michelangelo, Vignola and Sansovino some projects in order to built the bridge in stone instead of wood. The chosen project was the one of Antonio Da Ponte who began the construction works in 1588 and finished them in 1591.

The Da Ponte bridge is the one that we see now and it is 28 meters long, 7 meters high and it is supported by 12.000 elm poles. It is a single span bridge and many ‘experts’ such as the architect Vincenzo Scamozzi were deeply convinced that it was too heavy to resist through time


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