It is the oldest bridge that spans the Grand Canal of Venice. And no trip to this city is complete without walking on the majestic ‘Ponte di Rialto’ or Rialto Bridge.
It has been immortalized by artists like Canaletto. And for all you Shakespeare buffs, it even finds a mention in The Merchant of Venice, when Shylock asks, “What news on the Rialto?”
While the bridge we see now had been around since 1591, the original pontoon bridge came up as early as 1173. Since then, it suffered damage in a fire and collapsed twice. It took the council decades to decide on the winning design, even drawing designs from Michaelangelo and Palladio, perhaps best known for his beautiful country villas. As luck would have it, it was Antonio da Ponte who submitted the winning design, modeling it on the previous wooden bridge.
Construction of the new marble bridge began in 1588 and was open to the public in 1591. Until 1854 when the Accademia Bridge came up, this bridge was the only place you could cross the Grand Canal on foot.
Building bridges seems to run in the family, as, nine years later, his nephew, Antonio Contino, would go on to build another famous bridge – The bridge of Sighs.