Photo of The Rialto Bridge, Venice

Visit The Rialto Bridge, Venice

The Rialto Bridge is one of four bridges crossing the Grand Canal in Venice. It is the oldest and most beautiful of the four.

Explore the Rialto Bridge

Italy This Way review: The views all along the Grand Canal in Venice reveal many architectural treasures and the Rialto Bridge is one of the most famous of these.

Rialto Bridge

There are four bridges crossing the Grand Canal in Venice and the Rialto Bridge is the oldest of these. The bridge links the San Marco and the San Polo districts and was next to the Rialto market on the eastern bank.

It started out as a pontoon bridge in 1173 but proved very useful and was replaced by a wooden bridge in 1255. This structure had two fixed sides and a middle section which could be raised up to allow ships to pass through.

Shops were built along the fixed sections in the 15th century and rents helped to pay for maintenance. Even so the Rialto bridge suffered from fire damage in the 14th century and collapsed in the 15 and 16th centuries.

Half way through the 15th centuries plans were requested for a stone bridge and notable architects of the time put forward their suggestions. Michelangelo was amongst those considered to design the bridge but in the end Antonio da Ponte was chosen as the designer.

He designed a single span bridge with raised sides similar to the wooden bridge that was being replaced. The design was however daring for its time and its collapse was predicted. Fortunatley the bridge has stood the test of time and become one of Venice's top attractions.


The Rialto bridge has two ramps leading to a central portico. These ramps both have shops on the interior and a walkway on the outside on both sides.. The shops on the bridge sell tourist items, Murano glass and jewellery and there is a constant flow of people through the central portion of the bridge and on the outside.

As well as the arches all along the bridge its white stone has been decorated with reliefs of Saint Mark and Saint Theodore on one side of the bridge and the Virgin, an angel and the Holy Ghost on the other.

You can get to the bridge from either side of the bridge and it is reasonably well signposted (it is easy to get lost in the whole of Venice but it is small and so you can't go far wrong) or for the best views take the Vaporetto along the Grand Canal or treat yourself to a Gondola ride.

Rialto Bridge

Attractions nearby

Venice is a huge attraction and the Grand Canal is one of the key sights in Venice. Explore its length during your visit.

Head to Saint Mark's Square to see the magnificant Saint Mark's Basilica and the Doges Palace as well as the Campanile which you can go to the top of for great views over Saint Mark's Square and Saint Mark's basin.

If you have time visit the Scala Contarini del Bovolo spiral staircase or one of the museums of Venice.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Venice guide and the Venice-Veneto guide.

See also: 

Photos of The Rialto Bridge, Venice

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • rialto-bridge-saint-mark
  • rialto-bridge-shops
  • rialto-bridge1
  • rialto-bridge2
  • rialto-bridge3
  • rialto-bridge4

Map of The Rialto Bridge, Venice and places to visit


The Rialto Bridge, Venice places to visit

Fondaco-dei-Tedeschi, Venice

Fondaco-dei-Tedeschi, Venice

The Fondaco-dei-Tadeschi is a historic building in Venice with a roof terrace with views over the Grand Canal.

Fondaco-dei-Tedeschi, Venice guide
Scala Contarini del Bovolo, Venice

Scala Contarini del Bovolo, Venice

Scala Contarini del Bovolo is a 15th century palace in the renaissance style and with a spiral staircase, in the San Marco district of Venice

Scala Contarini del Bovolo, Venice guide
Museo Correr, Venice

Museo Correr, Venice

The Museo Correr has a collection of sculptures and items related to Venice housed in the sumptuous rooms of the Napoleonic wing on Saint Mark's Square.

Museo Correr, Venice guide
Saint Mark's Basilica, Venice

Saint Mark's Basilica, Venice

Saint Mark's Basilica is the stunning cathedral church of Venice which sits on Saint Mark's Square and inside houses magnificent Byzantine mosaics.

Saint Mark's Basilica, Venice guide
Saint Mark's Campanile, Venice

Saint Mark's Campanile, Venice

Saint Mark's Campanile is one of the iconic buildings of Saint Mark's Square and a visit to the top offers great views over Venice.

Saint Mark's Campanile, Venice guide
The Doge's Palace, Venice

The Doge's Palace, Venice

The Doge's Palace on Saint Mark's Square in Venice is a beautiful Gothic and Renaissance building with lavishly painted rooms inside.

The Doge's Palace, Venice guide

...or see all our recommended places to visit in Venice-Veneto