Rialto Bridge
Overview
 
The Rialto Bridge is one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal
Grand Canal of Venice
The Grand Canal is a canal in Venice, Italy. It forms one of the major water-traffic corridors in the city...

 in Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. It is the oldest bridge across the canal, and was the dividing line for the districts of San Marco and San Polo.
The first dry crossing of the Grand Canal was a pontoon bridge
Pontoon bridge
A pontoon bridge or floating bridge is a bridge that floats on water and in which barge- or boat-like pontoons support the bridge deck and its dynamic loads. While pontoon bridges are usually temporary structures, some are used for long periods of time...

 built in 1181 by Nicolò Barattieri
Nicolò Barattieri
Nicolò Barattieri designed the first Rialto Bridge in 1178. The pontoon bridge crossed the Grand Canal in Venice.Barattieri also erected the three columns in the Piazzetta dei Leoncini....

. It was called the Ponte della Moneta, presumably because of the mint that stood near its eastern entrance.
The development and importance of the Rialto
Rialto
The Rialto is and has been for many centuries the financial and commercial centre of Venice. It is an area of the San Polo sestiere of Venice, Italy, also known for its markets and for the Rialto Bridge across the Grand Canal....

 market on the eastern bank increased traffic on the floating bridge, so it was replaced in 1255 by a wooden bridge.
Encyclopedia
The Rialto Bridge is one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal
Grand Canal of Venice
The Grand Canal is a canal in Venice, Italy. It forms one of the major water-traffic corridors in the city...

 in Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. It is the oldest bridge across the canal, and was the dividing line for the districts of San Marco and San Polo.

History

The first dry crossing of the Grand Canal was a pontoon bridge
Pontoon bridge
A pontoon bridge or floating bridge is a bridge that floats on water and in which barge- or boat-like pontoons support the bridge deck and its dynamic loads. While pontoon bridges are usually temporary structures, some are used for long periods of time...

 built in 1181 by Nicolò Barattieri
Nicolò Barattieri
Nicolò Barattieri designed the first Rialto Bridge in 1178. The pontoon bridge crossed the Grand Canal in Venice.Barattieri also erected the three columns in the Piazzetta dei Leoncini....

. It was called the Ponte della Moneta, presumably because of the mint that stood near its eastern entrance.
The development and importance of the Rialto
Rialto
The Rialto is and has been for many centuries the financial and commercial centre of Venice. It is an area of the San Polo sestiere of Venice, Italy, also known for its markets and for the Rialto Bridge across the Grand Canal....

 market on the eastern bank increased traffic on the floating bridge, so it was replaced in 1255 by a wooden bridge. This structure had two inclined ramps meeting at a movable central section, that could be raised to allow the passage of tall ships. The connection with the market eventually led to a change of name for the bridge. During the first half of the 15th century two rows of shops were built along the sides of the bridge. The rents brought an income to the State Treasury, which helped maintain the bridge.

Maintenance was vital for the timber
Timber
Timber may refer to:* Timber, a term common in the United Kingdom and Australia for wood materials * Timber, Oregon, an unincorporated community in the U.S...

 bridge. It was partly burnt in the revolt led by Bajamonte Tiepolo
Bajamonte Tiepolo
Bajamonte Tiepolo was a Venetian noble, great-grandson of Doge Jacopo Tiepolo, grandson of Doge Lorenzo Tiepolo, son of Giacomo Tiepolo....

 in 1310. In 1444 it collapsed under the weight of a crowd watching a boat parade and it collapsed again in 1524.

The idea of rebuilding the bridge in stone was first proposed in 1503. Several projects were considered over the following decades. In 1551 the authorities requested proposals for the renewal of the Rialto Bridge, among other things. Plans were offered by famous architects such as Jacopo Sansovino
Jacopo Sansovino
Jacopo d'Antonio Sansovino was an Italian sculptor and architect, known best for his works around the Piazza San Marco in Venice. Andrea Palladio, in the Preface to his Quattro Libri was of the opinion that Sansovino's Biblioteca Marciana was the best building erected since Antiquity...

, Palladio and Vignola
Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola
Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola was one of the great Italian architects of 16th century Mannerism. His two great masterpieces are the Villa Farnese at Caprarola and the Jesuits' Church of the Gesù in Rome...

, but all involved a Classical approach with several arches, which was judged inappropriate to the situation. Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

 also was considered as designer of the bridge.

The present stone
Rock (geology)
In geology, rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic...

 bridge, a single span designed by Antonio da Ponte
Antonio da Ponte
Antonio da Ponte was an Venetian architect and engineer, most famous for his rebuilding the Rialto Bridge in that city.Da Ponte was head architect of the rebuilding of the Ducal Palace that was badly damaged by fire in 1574. After the original wooden structure of the Rialto Bridge had collapsed...

, was finally completed in 1591. It is similar to the wooden bridge it succeeded. Two inclined ramps lead up to a central portico
Portico
A portico is a porch leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls...

. On either side of the portico the covered ramps carry rows of shops. The engineering of the bridge was considered so audacious that architect Vincenzo Scamozzi
Vincenzo Scamozzi
thumb|250px|Portrait of Vincenzo Scamozzi by [[Paolo Veronese]]Vincenzo Scamozzi was a Venetian architect and a writer on architecture, active mainly in Vicenza and Republic of Venice area in the second half of the 16th century...

predicted future ruin. The bridge has defied its critics to become one of the architectural icons of Venice.

External links

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