Fun and Interesting Facts about Rialto Bridge in Venice (+ tips for visiting!)

Rialto Bridge in Venice

All you need to know about Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) in Venice: what it is, why it is significant, how to visit.

Rialto Bridge is one of the most iconic sights in Venice, and one of the most famous landmarks in Italy.

The bridge is one of the most visited spots in Venice and everyone wants to catch at least a quick sight of it or snap a photo, no matter how short their time in Venice may be!

Rialto Bridge is indeed beautiful and significant.

It is also, however, victim of its own notoriety. Therefore, to visit, it is handy to have some tips!

On this page, you will find fun and interesting facts about Rialto Bridge and top tips to make the most of your visit.

Information on this page comes from our trips to Venice, excellent guided tours of the city we have taken with authorized and knowledgeable guides and Venice, as well as additional research on and offline.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through them, we might make a small commission.

Want to know how to include Rialto in your visit? Find here >>> our recommended Venice itinerary

Quick facts about Rialto Bridge in Venice

Rialto Bridge QuestionAnswer
Date of construction1591
Name of ArchitectAntonio da Ponte
Commissioned by Doge Pasquale Cicogna
LocationSestiere San Polo, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy

Rialto bridge map

Rialto Bridge or Ponte di Rialto, in Italian, is a large bridge in Venice, connecting the two sides of the Grand Canal, the large canal that meander through Venice city center.

It connects the area of San Polo with that of San Marco. In Venice, areas area called ‘sestieri’. So, Rialto connects Sestiere San Polo with Sestiere San Marco.

A quick history of Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)

It is the oldest of the four bridges that cross the canal and dates from the Middle Ages, although not with the appearance we see now.

In ancient times, Rialto Bridge was just a series of boats, put one beside the other, so that people could cross the canal using them as a sort of boardwalk!

In the Middle Ages, probably around 1181, according to local historical records, Rialto became a permanent bridge, made of wood.

We can still see what the bridge looked like at the time in paintings such as those by Vittore Carpaccio, who lived 1460-1526.

In the 1400s however, the wooden Rialto bridge collapsed!

History tells us that, on the occasion of the visit of the Marques of Ferrara, the people on the bridge were so numerous, the structure gave way!

To prevent an accident to ever happen again, the next architect in charge of building the new Rialto Bridge made it in stone: This is the bridge we still see today!

In its present form, Rialto Bridge dates from 1591. The name of the architect who built Rialto Bridge was Antonio da Ponte – literally: Antonio from the bridge!

Antonio da Ponte had grand vision for his bridge: he wanted Rialto to be a bridge so beautiful, unique and ornate that it could become the symbol of the power of the Venetian Republic.

To do this, he designed Rialto Bridge with a single central arch, and pointy top that give to it a unique and a distinctive shape, that make it easy to recognize.

Fun facts: Many other artists, among which Palladio, presented project for the bridge. Some of these drawings are still visible in painting from the time and give an idea of what the city may have looked like, had a different architect won the tender!

Rialto Bridge Numbers and Figures

Rialto Bridge is 48 meters, long, 22 meters wide and has a supporting arch of 28 meters.

6000 wooden poles support the bridge and 3 staircases allow access.

The bridge is different from all others on the Grand Canals as it has tall sides, now lined with shops.

This is a characteristics that makes it similar in shape to Ponte Vecchio in Florence, which is also a bridge that doubles up as a commercial road.

Rialto Bridge is located in the San Marco sestiere (neighborhood) and connects the area of San Marco and San Polo, two of the most central in Venice.

These areas were the center of Venice’s trade and we still have memory of the role of Rialto Bridge in Venice’s commerce in the names of the river quay beside it: Riva del Vin (Quay of the wine) and Riva del Carbon (quay of the coal) etc.

Additional information about Venice at the time of the Rialto bridge construction are on the bridge itself.

On the bridge, you can find carvings that say who the Doge was at the time of construction, the year when the work finished (1511), the year from the fondation of Venice urbis condite 1170 (1170 years since the birth of Venice).

On the bridge, we also find religious symbols such as an Annunciation and the Dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit.

The name Rialto seems to come from the Latin ‘Rivus Altus’, which seems to indicate the particularly high depth of the canal on this spot.

The best time to visit Rialto Bridge

The best time to visit Rialto bridge is the early morning, before 8.30.

At this time, the large crowds of day trippers haven’t arrived in Venice yet and you can get the bridge at its quietest.

At this time, you are usually also able to walk across it, a task that often becomes impossible or at least unpleasant when the crowds are intense.

Unfortunately, Rialto Bridge is a plagued by over tourism: being able to be here at a different time from big groups is paramount for a good experience.

The best way to see Rialto Bridge

You can see Rialto Bridge on foot or from the water.

On foot, you can catch views of it from the side of the canal, although often at leat partially blocked by the restaurants along the canals sides.

From the water, you catch the most beautiful sights of it: you can easily catch a good view of Rialto bridge from the Vaporetto, no need for an expensive boat tour to see it!

if you want Ito do both, you can catch a vaporetto to it and then get off at the closest stop: Rialto.

How to get to Rialto Bridge

You can get to Rialto bridge on foot or by Vaporetto lines 1 and 2.

Rialto Bridge, Venice with gondolas and pin flowers in the foreground
Landscape with gondola on Grand Canal, Venice, Italy

What to see near Rialto Bridge

Rialto bridge is in venice city center and it is near many of Venice’s most famous attractions.

From Rialto, you can walk to:

  • Rialto Market: 3 minutes
  • Fondaco dei Tedeschi and its panoramic terrace: 1 minute
  • St Mark’s Square: 9 minutes
  • Accademia: 15 minites
My daughter while rowing on Venice canals

Additional Venice Resources

Venice Itineraries – our recommended itineraries to make the most of your visit to Venice over 1, 2 or 3 days

What to eat in Venice – must-try dishes for a real Venetian foodie experience

Visiting Venice with kids – family guide to enjoying Venice with children

Fun and interesting facts about Venice for kids – to learn many of the secrets of this mysterious and fascitating city!

Our favourite tours and activities in Venice

  • Discover Venice with Lucia’s “Venice walks and tours” – Lucia is a local, fully fledged Venice guide offering tours of Venice’s main attractions, walking tours of Venetian neighbourhoods and fantastic Venice tours for kids.

Our top choice is her Scavenger hunt tour for kids with Lucia (city overview and highlights / Doge’s Palace / specific neighborhoods): Book direct >> or on Whathsapp: +39 349 225 8189 Tell her Marta from LearningEscapes sent you!

  • Venice small group Tour by LivTours – a fantastic tour provider with tours for all ages.

Our top pick: Family tour of Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s with scavenger hunt by LivTours. Aff Link >>>

  • Vacation photographer: Marta (not me, just the same name as me!) Book direct with code MAMALOVESITALY for a 25$ discount
  • Rowing class with Row Venice. Book Direct >> A fantastic way to experience the canals that make Venice unique, escape the crowds and have a real, authentic experience in a quiet and stunning part of Venice

Mask Making with Sofia >>> Book via Airbnb experiencies

Murano Glass Makingwith Fabio, book via Airbnb experiences >>>

Boat tour of the Murano, Burano and Torcello Islands with Matteo, book via Airbnb experiences >>>

I hope you enjoyed this overview of fun facts about Ponte di Rialto and it helped you learn a little more about this famous and stunning Venice icon. Safe travels!

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