The Wonder Of The Rialto Bridge
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The Rialto Bridge in Venice, which goes over the Grand Canal, is what connects San Polo to San Marco. This has always been a very busy spot in Venice, though it is not full of merchants or people trying to get to work. Instead the area is filled with tourists.

It is one of the areas in Venice that is visited and photographed the most. It was opened as the Ponte di Rialto in 1591. It was designed to replace the different wooden bridges that had been built over the canal since the 1100s. Even though there are other bridges that go over the Grand Canal, including the Accademia and Scalzi bridge, the most famous, even to this day is the Rialto Bridge.

Originally, the area near the Rialto Bridge had a food market, due to its close proximity to the canal crossing. At first, a make-shift bridge was made of boats being put together. Then this was replaced by an actual bridge made of wood with two ramps. It even had a mobile area in the middle where passing ships could go through.

The Rialto Bridge that we know today is a stone arch that was created with the supervision of Antonio da Ponte. This took three years and was finished in 1591. The construction took this long due to the instable conditions in the area and the depth of the canal. The design of the Rialto is very similar to the wooden bridges that were once here, as it has two ramps and a covered portico, as well as shops on both sides.

At the time that Venice was a power in the water and traded with many parts of the world, large ships carrying cargo would often stop in at this spot in order to sell some of their products at a wholesale price. The merchants of Venice could therefore buy silk and spices from the East to be able to sell across Italy and even the Alps. Though the trade is not what it used to be, the Rialto Bridge is still one of the most trafficked tourist attractions in the city.

Bridges Before

DSCN2443 The very first bridge that was constructed to go across the Grand Canal was created in 1180, was bridge and made with the support of boats. This was then later replaced by a bridge that was more solid in nature, though still made of wood sometime around 1264, though it was rebuilt in 1310. The third bridge in this spot though fell under due to the weight as people were watching the parade of boats that passed by during the wedding of the marquis Ferrara. This time when they rebuilt the bridge, they made it into a drawbridge made of wood.

Around the end of the 1500’s, the third bridge had become very old and rundown. At this point, they decided that they should build a new bridge. But this time they opted to go with one made of stone; one that could withstand the test of time.

The Building of the Bridge

DSCN1421 There were many well known artists and even architects that they thought about when designing the new Rialto Bridge. One of these artists was even Michelangelo, though in the end, they went with Anthony da Ponte. The interesting thing about this is that his name when translated means ’Anthony of the Bridge’. Within three years of the time he started working on the bridge in 1588, the masterpiece was completed.

Many people became critical of the bridge as the construction drew on for years. This is because many of the merchants in the area had no other way to cross the canal, except by boat. However, the wait for the Rialto Bridge was worth it. It is thought to be one of the most beautiful and well known of the bridges that go across the Grand Canal. One of these bridges that the Rialto passes in its elegance is even the modern Calatrava Bridge.

Designing the Rialto

DSCN1423 The way this bridge was constructed was by taking two ramps with inclines and putting a portico at the top and shops on both sides. The reason they did this was because the area was known for its markets in Venice and with the three walkways that it provided there was room for plenty of this.

The arch of the bridge was higher than many of the other bridges of the time, by reaching about 24 feet high. This was because galley ships were known to pass by and due to this, they used about 12,000 pilings of wood in order to support the bridge with the 158 feet span.

Since this is one of the top tourist spots in the city of Venice, the Rialto Bridge is included in many tours of the city and can easily be photographed from a waterbus while on the Grand Canal.

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