The Rialto Bridge (italian: Ponte di Rialto) is the oldest and the most famous of the four bridges crossing the Grand Canal (it: Canal Grande) in Venice. The Rialto Bridge connects the sestieri (districts) of San Marco and San Polo and is among the major tourist attractions of Venice. From this majestic bridge you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Grand Canal, the famous main street of Venice which is at the same time the most popular waterway in the world.
The Rialto Bridge admired today by tourists from all over the planet is the permanent replacemet of a series of bridges that have spanned the Grand Canal since the 12th century. In fact, historical chronicles say that the first pontoon bridge was built in the 12th century, called the Moneda Bridge (it: Ponte della Moneta), probably due to its proximity to the mint. The bridge stood near the Rialto market and because the traffic on the floating bridge increased considerably was necessary the construction of a more stable wooden bridge.
Between the 13th and 16th centuries this wooden bridge had to be rebuilt several times due to some collapses. In these centuries the importance of Rialto increased as a center of international trade and a center of cultural exchange, and for this reason the bridge was renamed Ponte di Rialto and along its sides some shops and bookshops were built.
In the second half of the 16th century the Venetian authorities requested proposals for the construction of a new Rialto Bridge in stone. The most famous architects of the time offered several multi-arch bridge projects and only at the end of the century was approved the design of the single-arch bridge by the architect Antonio Da Ponte. The construction of the Rialto Bridge ended in 1591 and was an admirable achievement of Renaissance architectural engineering: costing the enormous sum of 250.000 ducats, Rialto Bridge was immediately defined by the Venetians as the eighth wonder of the world (1594).