The Ponte di Rialto or Rialto Bridge was built with a singular purpose in mind. It was to connect the commercial sector of the city to the other side. It spans the Grand Canal. Until the 19th century, the Rialto Bridge was the only link between the 2 sides of the Canal. In 1854, it was joined by the Accademia Bridge. Others were to follow. Until then, the Rialto Bridge was the only bridge in town. It had been constructed on this spot in 1588. The city decided this new bridge was necessary after the collapse of the previous wooden structure.
The design of the Rialto Bridge arose out of an open competition. The criterion was simple. The city wanted a stone bridge. Contenders included Michelangelo, Andrea Palladio and Jacopo Sansovino. The winner was, aptly enough, Antonio da Ponte. He began construction in 1588. The work was completed in 1591. The bridge features a fine balustrade. If you can locate a cozy discount hotel in Venice in the vicinity of the Rialto Bridge, take it. The area around it is a glimpse into the busy merchant life of the city. It joins the 2 sections of the city’s Rialto Market in the district of San Polo. Lined with shops, there is always heavy traffic on the Rialto Bridge. Congested it may be, but the bridge offers some of the finest views of the Grand Canal.
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