on October 16, 2009
The Rialto Bridge.Venice is a collection of small islands and in order to reach each of the islands small wooded bridges were built to help with crossing from one island to another. Apparently the wooden bridge that was originally built over the Grand Canal collapsed many times so a competition of famous architects was arranged to design a permanent bridge that would look beautiful and long lasting.The Rialto Bridge known in Italian as the Ponte Di Rialto is in the centre of Venice on the Grand Canal which is the main canal that snakes its way through the heart of Venice. It is one of the largest and busiest canals in the city and runs from near the Piazza San Marco to the lagoon near the station. The Grand Canal is 2.36 miles long and is between 98 feet and 298 feet in width. It connects the Island of San Marco to the island of San Paulo which contained a large market still there today.It was built in 1588 and took three years to build. The designer of the bridge was aptly named Antonio Da Ponte translated into English as Anthony of the Bridge. He competed against the likes of famous architects such as Michael Di Angelo and Palladio in the design of the bridge and he won. The bridge took three years to build and is supported by 12,000 wooden pilings which are still in place today. It is only one of four bridges that cross the Grand Canal. The bridge is beautifully designed and straddles the canal. It is built of white stone and has a central arch. It is just over 75 feet wide, 24 feet high and the main span of the bridge measures just over 95 feet in length. There are three sets of steps two on the outer aspects of the bridge and a central set of steps with small shops on either side.The Bridge looks absolutely majestic in the Venice sunshine and stands out defiant against the sceptics who said that it would never work and would collapse due to its ornate appearance. The bridge is surrounded by canal side restaurants that is ideal to sit beside the canal and have some lunch but the prices of the restaurants are over inflated and you would be much better off just viewing the bridge and eating in one of the many small trattoria’s in one of the nearby streets which would be much cheaper and probably better value for money.There is a water bus stop at the Rialto Bridge if you are unsure of your map reading skills or wary of finding your way around although it is sign posted very well all over the island of San Marco and it is probably one of the most popular tourist sights in the city. Alternatively just follow the crowds if you are getting near to it as sometimes it is chock a block with people taking photos, crossing it or just standing looking and admiring it.The volume of traffic that goes under it is nonstop as it is very much a working canal. Boats that traverse the canal include the water buses, working boats such as delivery boats delivering flowers, water, all kinds of food, bread, meats and cheeses, furniture, police, ambulances, fire brigade, tradesmen and water. There are gondoliers standing around the nearby canals that will relieve you of approximately £100 for a half hour gondolier ride which would take you under the bridge.I think it is well worth a visit to the Rialto Bridge and after St. Marks square and the Doges palace it is probably one of the most popular tourist sites. I would recommend you visit the bridge on your trip to Venice. The shops on either side of the bridge sell the usual tourist tat but some of the shops do sell some nice Venetian masks, world famous Murano glass made on the neighbouring island of Murano and jewellery. Alas Italy is like other countries plagued by yobs and vandals who have desecrated the bridge with graffiti which is such a shame to have scarred one of the most historical bridges in the city. You can appreciate the beauty of the bridge both during the day and at night it is beautiful at any time of the day.
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