Rialto Bridge or The Lover's Bridge is the oldest bridge spanning the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. It is at the heart of the city of Venice and is considered an authentic dignity and ecstasy of the city. Built at the end of 16th century of the Renaissance period by Antonio da Ponte, the bridge is a magnificent one stone-arch that connects districts of San Marco and San Polo.
On both the sides of this bridge are jam-packed shops and stalls that make up for the Rialto market. You can shop for some knick-knacks and souvenirs from them. It is quite crowded here but is worth climbing up the stairs and clicking some photographs for unforgettable memories.
Especially during the sunset, you can get to see some amazing scenes of the boats and gondolas sauntering through the canal while you stand on the bridge. For a romantic experience, you can go for a gondola ride itself and click photos with the bridge as the background. You can also sit at the nearby restaurants lined on the streets and get a spectacular view of the bridge from an appropriate distance.
As a top tourist place in Venice, Rialto bridge is included in most of the tours to Venice. The best time to visit here is Mid-Spring, that is, the first half of May or Last Week of September. One can also visit during Easter to enjoy the famous Carnival and Candlelit Parade of Boats along with Street Concerts and Performances.
How To Reach
The nearest airport is Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE), which is nearly 13.9 km away from Rialto Bridge. The following mode of transports are available from the airport to reach Rialto Bridge:
Get down from the flight at Venice Airport and then hire a taxi worth Rs. 3,500 to Rs. 4,000. It takes around 14 mins by taxi to reach there.
Another mode of transport to reach Rialto Bridge is a bus from Venice Airport. It takes 44 mins to reach Rialto Bridge by bus. The cost of the bus is around Rs. 180 to Rs. 900. The bus service is available every thirty minutes.
It is relatively cheaper than the taxi but the taxi saves your time.
Best Time To Visit
If you are planning to visit the epic and iconic Rialto Bridge in Venice, then plan your vacations around the Easter holidays or mid-spring. The best time is the first half of May till July first week or from the last week of September till November.
July mid to August is too hot that you will only be experiencing sweaty people and their body odor. So one should avoid the hot weather for vacations in Rialto Bridge, Venice.
Venice experiences winter from December to February. During this time period, you may or may not get snow. But, it is for sure the weather remains too cold during these 3 months. If you want to experience the winters of
Venice, then, you must visit during this time period. Also, In winter, you won't be getting much of a crowd of tourists and can enjoy the picturesque view of Rialto Bridge peacefully.
Other Essential Information
Location: Sestiere San Polo, 30125 Venezia, Italy, Europe
Timing: It is open for 24/7
Distance from nearest airport:
Entry Fee: It is totally free of cost
The nearest airport is Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) and Rialto Bridge is 13.9 km away from VCE airport.
History of the Rialto Bridge
Rialto Bridge has gone through many transformations. Firstly, in 1181 Nicolo Barattieri built a Pontoon Bridge named Ponte Della Moneta. Since mint leaves grew at its entrance, it was named Ponte Della Moneta. Then, in 1255 the Wooden Bridge replaced Pontoon Bridge, due to increased traffic in Rialto Market.
The structure of the Wooden Bridge was commendable at that period. That Bridge had two ramps on each side and a platform in the middle. The middle platform was raised to allow ships to pass through. As it was a Wooden Bridge, the materials used in building it often needed huge maintenance costs.
The Bridge had a market on its two sides and the rents and taxes from these shops helped in covering the maintenance costs. Later, Wooden Bridge was named 'Rialto Bridge', since the Rialto Market was nearby and the public used this bridge as a path to access the Rialto Market.
Thereafter, in 1310 due to Bajamonte Tiepolo's revolt, the fire damaged the Wooden Bridge. After that, it was repaired, but it collapsed for the first time in 1444. The reason was its incapacity to handle the weight of the crowd that came to see the Boat Parade for Marquis Ferrera Wedding. It was then rebuilt in 1524, like a drawbridge, but once again collapsed.
Afterwards, it was decided to rebuild it with stone materials. In 1551, many architects presented their designs, but authorities rejected them. The fault in their designs was several arches, which would’ve hindered the movement of ships.
Then, a Swiss-Born Venetian architect and engineer, Antonio da Ponte, presented his single-span arch design. The authorities approved his design and construction started in 1588. It took three years from 1588 to 1591 to build a single stone-arch bridge.
The Bridge made it easy for pedestrians to access the Rialto Market. Also, the structure helped in the smooth functioning of trading procedures in the market.
Architecture of Rialto Bridge
The credit of building such a solid architecture, which is, still standing firmly from the Renaissance period, without any damage goes to Swiss-born Venetian Antonio Da Ponte.
1. Material Used in Building Rialto Bridge
He used white limestone (Pietra d'istria) for prevention from erosion and for resisting the saltwater, which is important for the location. The white limestone is smooth and shiny which makes it naturally a focal point from the Grand Canal.
2. The Structure of Rialto Bridge
Antonio designed the structure of present Rialto Bridge the same as the former Wooden Bridge. He made three passages to make walking easy for pedestrians. The two sides of the bridge are inclined ramps and have stairs and a middle broad walk pathway having shops on both sides.
The main deck of the bridge is built at a significant angle of 15 degrees so that the pedestrians are prevented from seeing the other side of the bridge from each shore. The whole structure of the bridge is supported by the thousands of timber piles. These timber piles are planted into the soft soil of lagoons, which makes the base strong enough to stand from ages.
Interesting Facts about Rialto Bridge
1. The oldest bridge in Venice
The Rialto Bridge was built in the Renaissance Period. It was the only path for accessing the market place before the construction of the Accademia Bridge.
2. Rialto Bridge was built to provide access to Rialto
When the Venice market shifted to Rialto in 1097, a floating bridge Ponte Della Moneta was built to access the market. But, due to increased traffic, the Wooden Bridge replaced it in 1264. Since it was connected to Rialto, hence, its name changed to Rialto Bridge.
3. The history of Rialto Bridge witnessed many collapses
Due to the revolt of Bajamonte Tiepolo the fire damaged the wooden bridge in 1310. Then, in 1444 on the wedding occasion of Marquis Ferrara, the crowd came to see the Boat Parade and due to their overweight, the bridge collapsed. It again collapsed for the final time in 1524.
4. There's a blood relation between the two most important bridges across the Grand Canal
The two famous architects Antonio Da Ponte (architect of Rialto Bridge) and Antonio Contino (architect of Bridge of Sighs) had an uncle and nephew relationship.
5. The Design of the present Rialto Bridge was similar to the Wooden Bridge
The Rialto bridge has two inclined ramps leading to a central pathway for the tall ships. The wooden bridge had the same two inclined ramps and a central section that was raised to make a pathway for the tall ships.
6. It took 3 years to build the Bridge
The Bridge started in 1588 and finished in 1591 due to the unavailability of funds. The bridge has 75 feet of width and 24 feet of height of the arch and 94 feet long of Span.